Some of our more frequent blog readers may remember an April post in which we explained the legal ramifications of using someone’s image and likeness, particularly that of a celebrity, without their permission. In that post we explained that a company can suffer legal consequences if it claims a celebrity endorsement when in fact one does not exist. And as our readers will soon see, this happens more often than you may think.
Former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is currently suing a Nevada company, Arnold Nutrition Group, for not only having a company name that sounds eerily familiar to his own but for also using his image and likeness to help sell their products. According to Schwarzenegger, he was never contacted by the company to promote or endorse any of their products nor was he asked if his image and likeness could be used in advertisements.
He feels that because his image and name were used to promote the products without his permission, Arnold Nutrition is “committing a fraud on the public.” This is why he has filed a complaint in a Superior Court here in California. The former governor is seeking damages totaling $10 million for unfair competition with his own company, Schwarzenegger and Fitness Publications, and for violation of publicity rights.
As you can imagine, most celebrities have worked hard to showcase the best of their character by being mindful of their actions and putting their best foot forward. Just like anyone else in this state, they take pride in their reputation and are just as hurt when they find out that someone is trying to take advantage of it.
Some people, as well as companies, may think that they are not hurting anyone by using a celebrity’s name or image to promote a product. But as this case proves, it can be far more damaging than they may think and it can ultimately lead to litigation and legal consequences in the end.
Source: Courthouse News Service, “Arnold Schwarzenegger Files $10 Million Lawsuit,” May 13, 2014