The Republic of Ireland assistant manager’s legal action was yesterday admitted to the big business division of the High Court at the Commercial Court.
Mr Keane claims his constitutional rights were breached when Paddy Power used his face on a mocked-up image of Braveheart prior to the Ireland-Scotland European Championship qualifier without his prior knowledge or consent.
The action against Paddy Power plc relates to a billboard featuring Mr Keane as Scottish hero William Wallace — in a still from the Oscar-winning Braveheart — which was allegedly placed on the side of a 40ft truck and driven around Dublin ahead of Ireland’s match against Scotland.
The billboard contained a line adapted from the film: “You may take our points, but at least we have our freedom (Ya wee pussies).”
Mr Keane claims his image was very deliberately used by Paddy Power — which he says is renowned for its controversial approach to marketing — for its commercial benefit as part of its advertising campaign centred on the Ireland-Scotland game.
It is claimed Mr Keane’s image was central to the poster campaign, given his high profile. He claims the use of his image in the advert was designed to give the impression to the public that Mr Keane and the defendant’s business were connected.
This, it is claimed, constituted “a serious and flagrant misrepresentation and a misuse of the substantial and valuable goodwill enjoyed by Mr Keane in his name, image, likeness, and professional reputation”. It is also alleged it amounts to breach of his constitutional rights.
He claims the advert is couched in crude and vulgar terms towards Scottish people. The advert made a mocking reference to the outcome of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, when the electorate decided to remain within the UK.
The former Glasgow Celtic player said the tone and content of the advert do not represent his views or amount to anything he would say, even as a joke. The disparaging message on the billboard posters, he claims, has endangered and harmed his connection with Scotland.
In his action, Mr Keane seeks damages as well as various orders.
Mr Justice Brian McGovern granted an application by Michael Howard, for Mr Keane, to fast-track the proceedings in the Commercial Court. Counsel said the action was one of an alleged passing off.
Jim O’Callaghan, for Paddy Power, who described the action as unusual, said his side were neither consenting nor objecting to the action being admitted to the list.
Mr Keane was not present in court for the application. The matter will return before the court in November.