Puerto rico government

Roberto Clemente’s family sues Puerto Rico government for $45 million – News is My Business

Roberto Clemente’s likeness is used on vehicle registration stickers and license plates.

The family of Puerto Rico baseball legend Roberto Clemente filed a lawsuit in the local U.S. District Court against several Commonwealth government officials, seeking $45 million in damages for violation of the author.

Earlier this year, the government unveiled a license plate sticker and commemorative license plate bearing Clemente’s likeness, which his sons and their businesses say was done without their permission.

Clemente’s sons – Roberto Clemente Jr., Luis Roberto Clemente and Roberto Enrique Clemente – along with two of their companies, Clemente Properties Inc. and 21 In Right Inc, are listed as defendants in the case against Governor Pedro Pierluisi, Department of Transportation and Public Works, Secretary Eileen Vega, Puerto Rico Secretary of the Treasury Francisco Parés, Secretary of the Department of Sports and Recreation Ray Quiñones, and Puerto Rico’s Convention District Authority.

The license plate – which has an image of Roberto Clemente and includes the name “Clemente” with the number “21”, the number “50”, the word “anniversary” and the phrase “3000 hits” – incurs a fee of $21.

The cost charged to drivers is transferred to the Roberto Clemente Athletic District Fund, administered by the Treasury Department, for the exclusive use of the Department of Athletics and Recreation.

The license plate sticker, which also bears his likeness, carries a mandatory $5 fee in addition to the regular cost of the annual obligation, which is also directed to the Roberto Clemente Sports District.

The government said it plans to raise $15 million of the two special items this year that will go to that fund, which Clemente’s sons say “constitutes false publicity because it implies the funds would go to plaintiffs. , owners of the Roberto Clemente brand. This is also a use of the brand.

“None of the above was authorized by the complainants. Nor are plaintiffs implicated in any way in these defendant actions,” Clementes claims in the lawsuit. “However, because it is common knowledge that the plaintiffs are the owners of the Roberto Clemente trademark, its right of publicity, its likeness and the heritage it represents, the people of Puerto Rico have necessarily inferred that the plaintiffs are the recipients of economic benefit from the scheme that was devised by the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico and implemented by the defendants.

They accuse the government of having “used the Roberto Clemente brand as a subterfuge to collect money from the people”.

The plaintiffs said their use of the Roberto Clemente brand to shore up government money earned them scorn from people across social media and television.

“The people have rightly rejected the imposition of a fee for the use of the mark and likeness of Roberto Clemente in license plates and vehicle certification labels, at a time when our economy is suffering. and where the cost of living in Puerto Rico increases every day,” they said in the lawsuit, adding that “the defendants acted willfully, intentionally, and with full knowledge of the trademark misappropriation.”

Prior to filing the federal lawsuit, Luis Roberto Clemente made several public appearances, sent letters, and held meetings with the executive branch explaining trademark ownership, misappropriation, and unauthorized use.

In March, the government was notified by Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice of Roberto Clemente’s trademark infringement, the lawsuit says.

Heirs balk at Roberto Clemente Sports District
In the lawsuit, the Clemente brothers and their companies also cried foul over the creation of the Roberto Clemente Sports District last month, through Law 67 of 2022.

The law transfers to the government all land donated to Ciudad Deportiva Roberto Clemente Inc., to be developed as sports and recreational facilities. The Convention District Authority will be responsible for the planning and organization of the Roberto Clemente Sports District, which includes the development, reconstruction and construction of facilities.

The law also allows the land to be leased and sub-leased, under the Department of Sports and Recreation, which will use the money to develop and maintain the facilities.

Any activities that the law authorizes the government to conduct with the facilities bearing Roberto Clemente’s name are illegal, according to the lawsuit.

“Using the Roberto Clemente brand as a distinctive and famous brand in sport and social justice is the backbone of such an ambitious project. Without it, the possibility of development, private investment and general success is minimal,” the lawsuit states.

“It is hard to imagine a more appalling use of the Roberto Clemente brand,” the plaintiffs added. “The government program described here uses the Roberto Clemente brand to create the wealth necessary to deprive Ciudad Deportiva Roberto Clemente Inc. of its property and to expand it, also using its brand.”

Lawyers for the Clementes are asking the court to enter a declaratory judgment confirming that the use of the mark is unlawful.


Business journalist with 29 years of experience writing weekly and daily newspapers, as well as business publications in Puerto Rico. My list of past employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking, and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.