Sandra Bullock, Ellen DeGeneres Team Up for Lawsuit Over Fake Endorsements

Anonymous individuals are alleged to be running fake media sites featuring their made-up commentary about health products.
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Ellen DeGeneres

Sandra Bullock and Ellen DeGeneres have jointly filed a lawsuit against 100 anonymous individuals and entities. According to a complaint submitted Wednesday to Los Angeles Superior Court, the two stars are "joining forces in this action to expose the Celebrity Endorsement Theft Industry."

More specifically, the two are going after fakers in the affiliate marketing industry who earn commissions by directing traffic to e-commerce sites.The affiliate marketing business is huge. The lawsuit estimates it is a multi-billion industry with major names like Amazon and Hulu depending on affiliates for sales. One study estimates that 16 percent of online orders originate from affiliate marketing. Bullock and DeGeneres say much of it is legitimate, but not all — pointing to certain affiliate marketers attempting to sell products ranging from face cream to anti-aging serum to a dietary supplement to miraculous weight loss potions. Here, Bullock and DeGeneres say their names, images, likenesses and personas are being used without authorization.

The complaint uses "actual examples taken from the Internet" where the anonymous defendants hosted websites  "designed to look like legitimate and independent news reports or magazine articles about various Beauty products."

Continuing, the "publications on the fake media sites feature comments and endorsements purportedly from Bullock and DeGeneres — all of which are fake and fraudulent and published without Plaintiffs' consent."

Represented by attorneys from Kinsella Weitzman and Lavely & Singer, the two stars are asserting violations of their rights of publicity plus false advertising and unfair competition. The lawsuit demands an injunction and compensatory damages. First, though, the suit seems designed to kick off an investigation into responsibility for the marketing. Bullock has sued over misuse of her name before.