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Body boarding pro sues Body Glove in endorsement dispute

Bodyboarderphoto 
Body boarding pro Jason Bitzer and Redondo Beach watersport company Body Glove International are entangled in a nasty legal battle.

Bitzer, a 30-year-old New Jersey native, contends in a lawsuit that Body Glove and marketing company Sport Dimensions Inc. used his name and likeness to sell body boards without his permission.

“He’s one of the top-known body boarders in the country,” said Bitzer’s attorney, Dan A. Druz of Manasquan, N.J. “He’s like any celebrity –- he wants to be paid for the use of his name.”

Body Glove sponsored Bitzer until 2009, paying him for permission to use his name and image to market its products, Druz said. The company did not renew the deal in 2010, but continued to sell boards with his name, Druz said.

The lawsuit, originally filed in a New Jersey state court, was transferred this week to U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. It contends that Body Glove sold $3 million worth of body boards with Bitzer’s name without a formal endorsement contract. Most of the boards were sold at Costco and Sports Authority stores, the lawsuit said.

An attorney for Body Glove did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

For those who don’t spend much time at the beach, body boards are softer and shorter than surf boards and riders usually lay flat or kneel on them while riding waves. Bitzer is director of the U.S. Bodyboarding Assn., which sponsors contests throughout the United States.

The lawsuit seeks $500,000 in damages.

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-- Stuart Pfeifer

Photo: A body boarder in Seal Beach Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

 
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