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Lindsay Lohan hasn’t had much good news lately, with a judge issuing a bench warrant today for her arrest after violating terms of her probation. But the actress has shut the book on one legal matter.
Lohan has settled her $100 million claim against E-Trade over the Super Bowl commercial that featured a “milkaholic” baby named Lindsay. TMZ says Lohan will actually get some cash out of the deal but the website cites anonymous “sources” and then refers to Lohan’s lawyer Stephanie Ovadia — whom we had never heard of before this case — as a “high-powered attorney,” so you can guess who supplied that info.
Lohan argued that E-Trade violated her rights of publicity in its now infamous commercial, claiming that anybody watching the ad would connect the “milkaholic” Lindsay baby with the troubled actress. In court papers, Lohan’s lawyers argued that even though there are 250,000 “Lindsays” in America, only a few are celebrities, and hardly anybody could have any doubt that the ad was referencing Lohan.
Sadly, because the case is now settled, a judge won’t make any decision on the merits of the claim. The first test would have been whether Lohan was indeed recognizable as a subject in the ad, but the case would likely have explored other issues, including whether the actress was really “damaged,” considering the low value of her name these days.
It’s worth keeping in mind that rights of publicity disputes have been expanding exponentially in recent years, and many celebrity plaintiffs have scored points pressing lawsuits that at first blush may have appeared to be a reach. The seminal example is when “Wheel of Fortune” host Vanna White emerged victorious over Samsung’s use of a Vanna-like robot in a commercial. Another involves Paris Hilton’s attempt to collect against Hallmark for a greeting card that mocked the celebrity.
We’d still be very surprised if E-Trade paid anything significant here, but at least the company can now move on.
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