Clint Eastwood has won more than $8 million in damages from a company that used pictures of the Hollywood legend to make it appear as if he was endorsing its products.
A Californian court has awarded Eastwood and Garrapata, the company that owns the rights to his likeness, $US6.1 million ($A8.4 million) in a lawsuit against a Lithuanian company.
The order came after the actor and director filed two lawsuits in federal court in Los Angeles last year against three manufacturers and marketers of cannabis oil products. They were featured in an online article falsely claiming that Oscar-winner Eastwood had endorsed the items, known as CBD products.
The 91-year-old Dirty Harry star also took action against 10 online retailers that he accused of manipulating search results through meta tags.
“In truth, Mr Eastwood has no connection of any kind whatsoever to any CBD products and never gave such an interview,” documents filed in July 2020 stated.
“Mr Eastwood seeks to hold accountable the persons and entities that wrongfully crafted this scheme, spread false and malicious statements of facts about him, and illegally profited off of his name and likeness.”
One lawsuit alleged the online article included a fake interview that was intended to resemble NBC’s morning TV show Today. It included a photograph of Eastwood from an actual appearance on Today, as well as links to buy the products.
“Mr Eastwood has no connection of any kind whatsoever to any CBD products and never gave such an interview,” the court documents said.
Last Friday, Judge R Gary Klausner entered a default judgment after Mediatonas UAB – the company that published the fabricated interview – failed to respond to a summons in March. Eastwood and Garrapata were awarded damages based on Mediatonas UAB’s unauthorised use of his name and likeness, along with a further $100,000-plus in legal fees and a permanent injunction banning future use of his name and likeness.
“In pursuing this case, and obtaining this judgment, Mr Eastwood has again demonstrated a willingness to confront wrongdoing and hold accountable those who try to illegally profit off his name, likeness and goodwill,” Jordan Susman, one of Eastwood’s lawyers, said.
Following the court’s ruling, the Million Dollar Baby star’s legal representatives warned fans to be “cautious” about celebrity endorsements.
“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 or likeness.”
Another of his lawyers, Nolan Heimann, said previously that Eastwood was “not one to sit idly by as the defendants use his good name to dupe customers into purchasing products with which he has no affiliation”.
“While the purpose of these lawsuits is to halt and remedy ongoing defamation and misappropriation violations, they should also serve as a reminder to customers to be cautious when they see a too-good-to-be-true celebrity endorsement,” he said.