The Israeli university filed papers in the U.S. District Court in California claiming it owns the rights to the image GM used in a People magazine advertisement that featured the late physicist's head superimposed on a scantily dressed model, The Detroit News reported Thursday.
The model was wearing underwear and had a tattoo that spelled out "E = mc2."
The lawsuit says, "The tattooed, shirtless image of Dr. Einstein with his underpants on display is not consummate with and causes injury to carefully guarded rights in the image and likeness of the famous scientist, political activist, and humanitarian."
The suit claims Einstein gave his publicity rights to the university when he died in 1955.
GM spokeswoman Ryndee Carney said the company paid a "reputable firm" for the rights to use Einstein's image, but did not name the firm.
The university is seeking monetary damages and an order to stop GM from using Einstein's image in its advertising.