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December 22, 2014

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Agassi, Graf file suit over Internet domain names

Suit filed in Vegas claims companies trying to benefit from tennis stars

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Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi.

Companies representing tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf have filed lawsuits over the alleged use of their names in Internet site domain names, alleging trademark infringement and cybersquatting.

In one suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Las Vegas-based Agassi Enterprises Inc. claims the defendant domain names and those who registered them are attempting to profit from Agassi's famous name, reputation and goodwill.

"Andre Agassi is one of the greatest professional tennis players of all time. He captured eight Grand Slam titles, an Olympic Gold Medal, and is one of five players in the world to win a career Grand Slam, or win all four Grand Slam titles — U.S. Open, Australian Open, Wimbledon and French Open — in his career," the suit says.

"Throughout his career, Andre Agassi was in the public spotlight not only due to his success as a tennis player, but also through his endorsement deals and television commercials. Despite retiring from the game of tennis in 2006, Andre Agassi remains very much in the public spotlight through his philanthropic efforts and business dealings, which include the branding of the Agassi name and trademark," the suit says.

But now, the suit says, companies in St. Johns, Antigua; Panama City, Fla.; and Scottsdale, Ariz.; have registered Internet domain names using Andre Agassi's name without his consent. The suit seeks an injunction requiring the domain name registrars to transfer the domain names at issue to Agassi.

The second suit was filed by SGF License LLC of Las Vegas, which represents Agassi's spouse, Graf.

"Stefanie Graf is one of the greatest professional tennis players of all time. She won 22 Grand Slam singles titles: seven at Wimbledon, six at the French Open, five at the US Open and four at the Australian Open. She is the only player to win each at least four times," that suit says.

"Throughout her career, Stefanie Graf was in the public spotlight not only due to her success as a tennis player, but also through her endorsement deals and television commercials. Despite retiring from the game of tennis in 1999, Stefanie Graf remains very much in the public spotlight through her philanthropic efforts and business dealings, which include the branding of the Graf name and trademark," the suit says.

Now, the suit charges, two companies and an individual have registered Internet domain names without her permission in hopes of capitalizing on her fame. Those companies and the individual are in the Cayman Islands, London and in Illinois, the suit says. Again, the Graf company seeks to have the domain names transferred to her company.

Both suits were filed by attorneys Michael McCue and Jennifer Craft of the Las Vegas firm Lewis and Roca LLP. None of the companies or the individual allegedly behind the domain names at issue have responded to the allegations.

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