Clint Eastwood has notched a million-dollar victory in the his lawsuit over a foreign media company’s unsanctioned use of the actor’s image in pro-CBD advertisements.
U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner awarded Eastwood, now 91 years old, and Garrapata — the company that owns the trademark rights to Eastwood’s likeness — more than $6 million in a default judgment Friday.
According to the complaint, Mediatonas UAB, a Lithuanian media company, created a “fabricated interview with Mr. Eastwood in which he touts his purported line of CBD products.”
“Big Pharma In Outrage Over Clint Eastwood’s CBD,” the made-up headline reads, according to the complaint.
The fake news article contained wholly fabricated quotes from Eastwood from an interview that never happened, as well as assertion that “he would be stepping away from the spotlight to put more time into his wellness business.” The story also alleged that Eastwood was so dedicated to his (non-existent) CBD company that studios “ended up giving him an ultimatum – acting or his wellness line,” which the complaint said was “demonstrably untrue.”
“In truth, Mr. Eastwood has no connection of any kind whatsoever to any CBD products and never gave such an interview,” the complaint said.
“The unlawful actions by the defendants amount to a willful and conscious disregard for Mr. Eastwood’s rights, are knowingly false, and are intentionally designed to capitalize on the goodwill, recognition, and fame associated with Mr. Eastwood,” the complaint added.
In determining the amount of the judgment, Klausner relied on Garrapata’s assertion that Eastwood’s licensing fee would likely be around $6 million to endorse a “high-profile product for a 16-month online campaign.” Eastwood and Garrapata would have added a premium to the licensing fee “to account for the fact that the CBD product is unknown and thus would rely more heavily on Mr. Eastwood’s goodwill and jeopardize his reputation.”
Klausner also awarded almost $95,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs to Eastwood’s lawyers.
“Over a career that has a spanned more than sixty years, Mr. Eastwood has earned a reputation for honesty, hard work, integrity, and public service,” Eastwood’s attorney, Jordan Susman, said in a statement to Law&Crime. “He is also willing to do what is right and what is fair. 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.”
Eastwood’s lawyers first filed the case in July of 2020, without knowing the true identities of those behind the fake stories, according to the initial complaint. They filed an amended complaint against Mediatonas UAB, the company that owns the websites where the stories appeared, in February.
Klausner did deny Eastwood’s defamation and false light claims, saying that the publication of the fake stories was “not defamatory on its face,” and that more information and context is needed “to understand what CBD products are and why a person like Clint Eastwood would not endorse a marijuana-based product.”
Notably, according to the judgment, Eastwood has licensed his name and likeness only once, for a Super Bowl commercial “themed around America’s resilience and recovery from the Great Recession.”
Read the judgment, below.
[Image via Amy Sussman/Getty Images for AFI]
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