Trademark Infringement

Clint Eastwood Wins $2M CBD Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

Does Clint Eastwood promote CBD products? The answer from a California federal court is no. Eastwood was victorious in a lawsuit that alleged that a CBD seller stole his name and likeness to promote its CBD products.

This verdict, which awarded the actor $2 million, is the second to be decided in his favor against companies that manufacture and market CBD. It was found that they used fabricated news stories and manipulated search engine results to make it look like Eastman endorsed their CBD products.

The amount awarded was considered “the fair market value” of the veteran actor’s services in lending his name to a campaign for products he probably would not have endorsed.

This lawsuit is one in a series of legal fights waged during his long career to protect his name and reputation. In 2020, the Hollywood legend, along with Garrapata, which controls rights to his likeness outside of films, sued the CBD companies. The legal filing made clear that the actor had never been involved in the cannabis business.

According to the legal filing, marketing agency Norok Innovation was responsible for an online scam that illegally used Eastwood’s celebrity status to lure users to a marketplace that sold CBD products—a practice that the actor takes issue with. They did this by placing his name in blog posts and meta descriptions that are meant to summarize a web page’s contents. They did this without Eastwood’s knowledge or authorization.

A U.S. District Court Judge found that Eastwood sufficiently proved his trademark infringement claims and ruled in his favor. The $2 million was $1 million shy of the requested amount; however, the judge concluded that it was not an unreasonable request when considering the exploitation and misuse of the plaintiff’s rights for another’s commercial gain.

According to the judge, Eastwood only agreed to one endorsement deal—for a 2012 Super Bowl television ad. In that case, the actor accepted a lower fee due to his strong feelings about the message of the commercial, which was about the nation’s recovery from the 2008 recession.

Eastwood’s attorney, Jordan Susman, praised the decision as a message that infringers can’t evade liability.

Back in October, Eastwood was awarded $6.1million. A Lithuanian company, Mediatonas UAB, published a phony interview with him to give the impression of a product endorsement. The judge ruled in favor of the actor when the company did not respond to the lawsuit.  

Other actors such as Ellen DeGeneres and Sandra Bullock have also appeared in court to file complaints against ecommerce companies using their names and likenesses to drive traffic to their websites.   The Hollywood Reporter – July 1, 2022 – Winston Cho

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