Appropriation Lawsuits


Appropriation Lawsuits

Privacy is the general right to be left alone and free from unwanted publicity. There are four well-established lawsuits for invasion of privacy: appropriation, false light, intrusion, and disclosure. This article gives examples of appropriation lawsuits. Appropriation is defined as the use of a person’s name, likeness, or personality for the benefit of another. Defenses include that the matter is public or that the person who’s privacy was invaded gave consent.

Flake v. Greensboro News Co.

In this case, the first defendant mistakenly put a photograph of the plaintiff in her bathing suit in the second defendant’s advertisement. The court declared that “the unauthorized use of one’s photograph in connection with an advertisement or other commercial enterprise gives rise to a cause of action.” The court ruled that the plaintiff could recover nominal damages if she could not prove actual damages.

Hinish v. Meier & Frank Co.

In this case, the defendant used the plaintiff’s name in a telegram to a governor urging the governor to veto a bill. The use of the plaintiff’s name was in a matter of politics, not a commercial situation, but that did not stop the court from ruling that the defendant had wrongfully appropriated the plaintiff’s name.

“Selleck v. Rolling Rock”

Based on changes made in advertisements for Rolling Rock beer, an invasion of privacy lawsuit may have been threatened by actor Tom Selleck, star of the television series “Magnum, P.I.” Apparently knowing that a celebrity may sue a brewery advertiser for using the celebrity’s voice in a radio advertisement for beer, the advertisers of Rolling Rock apparently hired Joe Garvey to narrate Rolling Rock advertisements. Interestingly, Joe Garvey’s voice was very similar to Tom Selleck’s voice. Again, based on changes made in the advertisements, Tom Selleck apparently reached an agreement with the advertisers of Rolling Rock that Joe Garvey would clearly identify himself in each advertisement for Rolling Rock beer.