Although the California Appellate Court, Second Appellate District, has designated the actual opinion as NOT FOR PUBLICATION (this means you must consult the rules of the court before you cite this case), this past May, two former members of the famed rock band The Doors were held to have engaged in false advertising under California law by advertising a concert band using that name. Although a jury found the band members not guilty of trademark infringement or unfair competition, the appeals court agreed with the trial court that “false advertising” claims are not the same, and upheld a permanent injunction against the individuals using the name “The Doors,” or any name containing that name. The court’s ruling also precludes the use of the name, voice or likeness of deceased band member Jim Morrison, in promoting concert ticket sales, citing prohibitions under the California statute regarding rights of publicity. Rimon knows publicity and privacy, in California—and throughout the United States and the world. Always know before you show. Call us, we can help.
As of May 26, brands that spread their positive messages in the UK without clearly identifying the origin will be subject to criminal prosecution—yes, you heard correctly. The consumer protection legislation, which includes fines and prison sentences, makes it an offense to blog, use brand representatives or viral ads “falsely representing oneself as a consumer.” Bloggers who write about products and accept money without disclosing it are also subject to criminal prosecution.
Legislation in Europe may be a response to some well-publicized buzz that unfortunately did not publicize the source. The founder of Whole Foods, using an alias, began criticizing competitors through online forums. Guess who sponsored a road trip called “Wal-Marting Across America” without attribution. And Sony apologized when consumers discovered that an “All I Want for Christmas is a PSP” amateur video and blog appearing to be written by a friend of someone in the video, was a viral ad campaign engineered by Sony and its ad agency.
In the United States, the advertising industry has a successful model of self-regulation and industry leaders believe such a model can be extended to word-of-mouth marketing. Stay tuned.