September 14, 2007

According to The Smoking Gun (link below), attorneys for Paris Hilton have filed suit against Hallmark regarding a greeting card distributed by Hallmark with Paris’s likeness. The card (available at the first link below) shows a photograph of Paris’s head on a cartoon waitress body, handing a plate of hot food to a patron. The dialogue with the patron is as follows:

Paris: “Don’t touch that, it’s hot.”
Patron: “What’s hot?”
Paris: “That’s hot.”

The bottom of the card reads “Paris’s First Day as a Waitress.”

The lawsuit, naming Hallmark Cards and Does 1-10 as defendants, alleges commercial appropriation of identity (under the California Civil Code), invasion of privacy, misappropriation of publicity, and false designation of origin under the Lanham Act (§ 43(a), 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)). The complaint states that “Defendant has wrongfully utilized Plaintiff’s name and identity and, therefore, damaging her rights of privacy and publicity, her exclusive property rights and her personal rights in and to the use of her name and likeness.” Although the entire complaint is not available on The Smoking Gun, the damages sought at least for one cause of action (commercial appropriation) are “actual damages in an amount to be shown at trial, but not less than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00).” Be sure to check out the last page of the article (last link below), which is an unidentified greeting card stating “The Really, Really, Really, Really, Simple Life” and, well, you’ll see the rest.

By way of background (not available at The Smoking Gun), Paris Hilton has filed thirty-six (36) U.S. trademark applications, three of which for “THAT’S HOT” (U.S. Trademark Application Nos. 76/604206, 76/615015, and 77/163240), and one of which (76/604206) issuing as U.S. Trademark Reg. No. 3,209,488.

The Smoking Gun Article & Greeting Card Image: LINK
Complaint (First Four Pages): LINK
Unidentified Greeting Card Image: LINK
U.S. Trademark Application No. 76/604206: LINK
U.S. Trademark Application No. 76/615015: LINK
U.S. Trademark Application No. 77/163240: LINK

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Mark Reichel
Reichel IP LLC

I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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