Matthew Reed from TigerLilly Tattoo and DesignWorks claims he owns the copyright for the design of the tattoo. Reed's lawsuit wants the Nike ad featuring Wallace and the tattoo off the air and the Internet, as well as damages.
According to the suit filed last week in U.S. District Court, Wallace, who was then playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, approached Reed in 1998, saying he wanted an Egyptian-themed family design with a king and queen and three children and a stylized sun in the background.
Reed researched the idea and came up with a design. Reed said the $450 charge was a small amount, but he expected to benefit from the exposure.
Wallace has one of the more distinctive tattoos in the NBA. Sports Illustrated for Kids used it in a feature asking readers to match each tattoo with the NBA player who wears it.
But Reed claims he became aware last year of a Nike ad that centers on the tattoo and its creation. He claims the ad violates the copyright he holds to "the Egyptian Family Pencil Drawing."
A representative for Wieden+Kennedy, which made the ad and is named in the suit, declined comment to The Oregonian of Portland. Representatives for Nike and Wallace did not return phone messages seeking comment.