Go ahead, make his payday.
Clint Eastwood, the 92-year-old actor, director, producer, and former mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, has won his second lawsuit against online marketers who used his likeness without permission. He was joined in the suit by the company Garrapata, an agency which owns the rights to Eastwood’s name and image outside of movies.
The latest verdict, which was handed down last week, awards Eastwood and Garrapata $2 million in damages. The claim was made against a California-based marketing company, Norok Innovation, which leveraged Eastwood’s celebrity status to drive online traffic—via a “hidden metatag game”—to a website selling CBD products. Fabricated news articles and manipulated search results made it appear as if Eastwood endorsed the products. The claim argued that these were “products he likely would have been unwilling to endorse in the first place.”
“Like many of his most famous characters, Mr. Eastwood is not afraid to confront wrongdoing and hold accountable those that try to illegally profit off his name,” the suit, which was filed in January 2021, read.
Eastwood’s reps pointed out that the screen icon rarely endorses any product. Indeed, the only time he has done so in recent memory, the Halftime in America Super Bowl ad for Chrysler in 2012, became a major news item. (Eastwood claimed he took a fee far lower than what was awarded him in this lawsuit, because he believed in that ad’s message.)
In October last year, Eastwood and Garrapata won a $6.1 million dollar claim in a similar lawsuit against Mediatonas UAB, a Lithuanian company, which also featured false articles in which it appeared that the actor endorsed CBD products.
While that judgement agreed with Eastwood’s lawyers that he was entitled to damages for unlicensed use of his likeness, it fell short of requests for defamation damages. The judge decided that “additional context” would be needed to understand “why a person like Clint Eastwood would not endorse a marijuana-based product.” Insert a grimacing meme of Clint from Gran Torino here.
Eastwood’s Unforgiven-esque rampage of vengeance is not over. Additional lawsuits are still making their way through the courts, against not just the marketers, but the CBD companies themselves. Two California and one Arizona companies were served with papers for suggesting he endorsed their products and even claimed he had “his own CBD line.”
According to Marketwatch, the CBD (cannabidiol) industry is forecasted to reach revenues of $1.07 billion by 2025, up from $411.6 million in 2019.
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