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Sandra Bullock has ended a two-year-long legal battle against jewelry vendors who used her fame to sell watches.
In March 2012, the actress filed a lawsuit against ToyWatch over a diamond-encrusted, white-band watch that, on the company’s website as well as retail websites like Amazon.com, was advertised as having been worn by the star in her Oscar-winning role in The Blind Side.
According to Bullock’s lawsuit, the actress “will not voluntarily appear in print or other media for a company or product unless she carefully selects and believes in the company and product, and unless the compensation she receives is commensurate with the value of the exploitation of her name, image, identity, and persona.”
The lawsuit was later handled by an arbitration branch in Santa Monica Superior Court, and expanded to target United States Jewelry Liquidators and SPD Group, doing business as J.R. Dunn Jewelers. The complaint noted Bullock’s many accolades, cited a popularity survey that put her ahead of Oprah Winfrey (“As it turns out, Sandra Bullock really is America’s sweetheart,”) and took issues with jewelry being sold as the “Sandra Bullock Watch” and the “Bullock Watch.”
Within the past couple of weeks, the parties told various judges — including one handling a related insurance dispute — that the matter had been settled. Terms weren’t revealed.
Bullock might be done with her legal battles, but another star isn’t. Halle Berry also has a pending $2 million lawsuit against ToyWatch for associating her with merchandise. She is represented by attorney Charles Harder, who also represented Bullock.
So what legal claims do A-list stars use to knock unauthorized jewelry from the hands of retailers? Both Bullock and Berry exploited publicity rights statutes that protect names, images and likenesses. Both tapped privacy laws as well, with the stars saying the defendants infringed the “right to be left alone.” Then, there were trade dress claims with the implication being that the characteristics of their visual appearances were protected.
And lastly –our favorite — came a claim for slogan infringement. Berry claims both “Halle” and “Halle Berry” as slogans used in commerce for more than 20 years, while Bullock makes no pretense about owning her first name but says the slogan “Sandra Bullock” has been used in commerce for more than 30 years.
Slogan: “Eriq Gardner”
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