Sandra Bullock Sues Watch Company

Sandra Bullock has filed suit against ToyWatch USA and several vendors for using her image in a marketing campaign without her permission. In her Oscar-winning film The Blind Side, Bullock's character, Leigh Anne Tuohy, wore a diamond-encrusted watch made by ToyWatch USA. ToyWatch advertised its watch as the "Sandra Bullock Watch."

Bullock filed a complaint in California state court alleging that her common law right of publicity/right of privacy was violated. The complaint alleged that "ToyWatch USA intentionally and prominently used Ms. Bullock's name, photograph, image, identity, and persona in advertising, marketing and/or promotion ... to sell watches." The complaint further alleges that in certain of the advertisements Bullock's "name, photograph, identity and persona were placed adjacent to or in close proximity of the Advertised Products, as well as the particular Defendant(s)' company name(s), logo(s), trademark(s), trade name(s), trade dress, and slogan(s), so as to create an unauthorized and false association with Ms. Bullock."

The lawsuit states that Bullock was not paid for the use of her name and image and that she "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."

Bullock seeks damages and an injunction to stop the company from using her name and image. Bullock is only suing based on a violation of her right of publicity/right of privacy and does not allege violations of false advertising or trademark infringement, as other states have done in the past.

Celebrities earn substantial sums of money by licensing the rights to use their names and likenesses; thus it is important to ensure that these rights are not violated when promoting, marketing and advertising your goods and services. Even using a famous person's name without their image can be problematic. Such violations could result in a costly legal battle.

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