Celebrity legal battles are as old as the film and music industries. From the scandal that disgraced silent film star Fatty Arbuckle to the Depp V. Heard battle of 2022, stars have been going to court with high priced attorneys at their sides to battle things out. Sometimes it’s over criminal charges, sometimes it’s for libel or breach of contract, and other times stars are sticking it to big business.
One might be surprised to learn which stars have sued which companies. Tom Waits sued a potato chip empire. Bette Midler sued a car company. Lindsey Lohan sued a video game! The list could go on and on, but for the sake of time and space let’s just talk about 9 of the most impressive celebrity v. corporation cases.
George Clooney And Julia Roberts Vs. Digital Projection Inc.
Julia Roberts and her frequent co-star George Clooney took the projector company Digital Production Inc. and its audio partner, Beyond Audio Inc., to court for unauthorized use of their images. The companies used the name and images of both stars to move sales for their film projectors and entertainment systems. The lawsuit claimed that the companies violated the protected use of Clooney and Roberts’ trademarks and their right to privacy.
Lindsey Lohan Vs. GTA / RockStar Games
Allegedly, a character in the Grand Theft Auto universe named Lacey Jonas was inspired by Lohan, who quite famously had a public image that was making headlines for erratic and dangerous behavior. According to Lohan’s suit, the character copied Lohan’s image, clothes, and her signature “peace sign pose.” Lohan lost this fight and her following appeal was denied.
Scarlett Johansson Vs. JC Lattes
JC Lattes is a French publisher of fiction and other genres. The company published a novel called The First Thing We Look At by Gregoire Delacourt in 2015. The book is about a car mechanic who becomes obsessed with a woman that he is convinced is the well-known actress. Johansson sued the publisher for using her likeness in the novel without her consent. The author contested that his book was a work of fiction and that the character was indeed not Scarlett Johansson but one “Jeanine Foucaprez.” Despite Johansson’s best efforts, the French novel was released in English that same year.
Kim Kardashian Vs. Old Navy
Kim K took the clothing store chain Old Navy to court for their use of a look-a-like in one of their ads. The impersonator was one Melissa Molinaro, who Kim argued was too similar to her in appearance and that her presence in the ad would confuse Kim’s fans and cause people to believe she was endorsing the brand. The company settled with Kim for $20 million.
Ariana Grande Vs. Forever 21
Like Kim Kardashian, the pop diva and Nickelodeon alum sued the clothing chain for their use of a look-a-like model. Forever 21 also used samples of her song “7 Rings” in the ad with said look-a-like. Grande had walked away from a merchandise deal before her lawsuit when the company could not pay her the appropriate share of her market value, according to court documents. The case was set aside when Forever 21 began bankruptcy proceedings in 2019, but many believe the fight is far from over.
Rihanna Vs. TopShop
After filming in Northern Ireland in 2011, U.K. clothing chain TopShop used images of Rihanna from her shoot on t-shirts and merchandise. The R&B star sued TopShop for $5 million as the image that was sold to them was taken without her permission. This all resulted in a lengthy back and forth with the company, but Rihanna eventually would emerge from the court as the victor in 2015.
Elon Musk Vs. Twitter
In early 2022, the billionaire tech mogul made an impulsive purchase when he promised to buy Twitter. He promised to make it a haven for freedom of speech and that certain banned accounts, like that of ex-president Donald Trump, would be restored. Musk quickly began to backtrack on his promise to purchase the company, citing all kinds of technical issues that some would argue should have been foreseen.
The company’s value also took a bit of a dive after he already promised to buy it for $44 billion (around $52 per share). As of October 2022, Musk has since abandoned his legal fight and accepted the terms he had previously agreed to. But Musk, who has a track record of backtracking on grandiose promises, could still find some way to weasel out of the deal. Hey, he’s done it before…
Bette Midler Vs. Ford
The Broadway legend and star of the Hocus Pocus films sued Ford Motor Company and the ad agency Young and Rubicon. The companies hired a sound-a-like singer for ads that used the replacement singer to cover Midler’s hit cover of a Bobby Freeman song. Midler argued that the use of a sound-a-like infringes on her brand and confused fans because the sound between the ad and Midler was virtually indistinguishable. Midler won and her case would go on to be cited in another lawsuit pushed by her friend, Tom Waits.
Tom Waits Vs. Frito-Lay
Tom Waits is usually a cool character, but he not a fan of his music being in commercials. Waits sued Frito-Lay after he refused to allow them to use his song “Step Right Up,” for an ad. Like Ford tried with Midler, the snack company hired a sound-a-like to mimic Wait’s distinct raspy sound. Frito-Lay argued in court that Waits was not famous enough to be confused with their singer, and therefore his sound was not distinct enough to be confused with theirs. The court disagreed and Waits was awarded $2.5 million for the false endorsement.
Original posted at news.google.com