Saturday, September 8, 2007
Hallmarks "That's Hot" Paris Hilton Satirical Card A Commercial Appropriation of Identity?
First, Paris is hot. (This time of year it is in the 90's.) Paris Hilton not only has sizzling looks, but she also apparently has a temper. Hilton is suing over a Hallmark card that uses her picture and the catchphrase "That's hot." Hilton suit against Hallmark Cards Inc. in U.S. District Court seeks an injunction and unspecified damages. The card, "Paris's First Day as a Waitress" depicts Hilton's face on a cartoon waitress serving a customer. "Don't touch that, it's hot," says the cartoon waitress.
Hilton owns the trademark "That's hot," since Feb. 13, 2007. (Paris, waitresses have been saying this ever since I can remember!)
Hilton claims commercial appropriation of identity, invasion of privacy, misappropriation of publicity, false representation that Hilton endorses the product, and infringement of a federally registered trademark.
Damages would be calculated from profits on the $2.49 cards. Hilton is represented by an excellent attorney, Brent Blakely.
Hallmark claims the card is a parody, which is normally protected under fair-use law according to Hallmark spokeswoman Julie O'Dell. "These cards take a satirical look at news and gossip surrounding these public figures, including Paris Hilton, and we do not believe Hallmark has violated any of Ms. Hilton's rights."
Paris, even if you win the lawsuit, your entitlement to the profits may be offset by the increased value it brings to your popularity. One would think you might be honored by the card which is in the collection of those with other famous figures. You might want to consider taking your new alcohol free lifestyle and getting some publicity through some charity work. It is not like you need the money right now...
Update 9-11-09: Paris once again demonstrates that she has brains (as well as a good legal team) and beauty. A recent hearing in California before three judges at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted Hilton the opportunity to pursue her case against the company. The panel recected Hallmark's claim that the cartoon was of a generic woman and not Paris Hilton. Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain said, "The basic setting is the same: we see Paris Hilton, born to privilege, working as a waitress. (Hilton) has at least some probability of prevailing on the merits before a trier of fact."