For a guy who played a bunch of outlaws, Clint Eastwood sure does love trademark infringement laws.
Last week, the 90-year-old Hollywood icon deployed his lawyers to file a complaint against nearly 20 cannabis companies that stand accused of trademark infringement, defamation, and other violations, for falsely using his likeness to promote their CBD products.
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All of the cannabis companies sell CBD products that don’t get you high and would probably not be overly offensive to an angry Korean war veteran who sits on his porch glaring at his new Hmong immigrant neighbors (Gran Torino was a great movie).
Nonetheless, Eastwood is very protective of his image and has the type of face that makes you feel sober, even if in 2012 he took the stage at the Republican National Convention and famously talked to an empty chair for several minutes.
One of the complaints filed on Eastwood’s behalf states that “this action arises from an online scam that uses a false, defamatory, and wholly fabricated ‘news article’ about Mr. Eastwood to promote and sell cannabidiol (’CBD’) products.”
The complaint filed in the District Court for the Central District of California names the companies Sera Labs, Inc., Greendios dba Euphoric, For Our Vets, and Patriot Supreme, among the defendants. The complaints involve false endorsement under the Lanham Act, trademark infringement, defamation, and false light invasion of privacy, among others.
The complaint seeks a trial by jury and states that for more than 60 years Eastwood has been one of the most famous actors, producers, and directors in the world and that he “is fiercely protective of his name and image, and has rarely licensed either for the promotion of products of outside of the movies he acted in or directed.”
The complaint also says that “like many of his famous characters, Mr. Eastwood is not afraid to confront wrongdoing and hold accountable those that try to illegally profit off his name or likeness.”
In particular, the complaint takes issues with “an online scam” that used a fabricated “news article” with the headline “Big Pharma in Outrage Over Clint Eastwood’s CBD – He Fires Back With This!”
The article also included links to purchase what it claimed were Eastwood’s line of CBD products, in an apparent attempt to profit off his name and likeness, according to the complaint.
The complaint also cites a spam email that includes a false news article stating that Eastwood gave an emotional 1-on-1 article about how “he wouldn’t be where he is without CBD.”
The line “Clint Eastwood wouldn’t be where he is if it wasn’t for CBD” is hilarious on its own merits, but could arguably get these companies into some serious financial and legal trouble.
The article also stated that Eastwood “has never been shy about advocating for marijuana use.”
There are many actors you may think of when you think of marijuana and Eastwood is somewhere near the bottom of the list alongside those American GIs who were kidnapped and forced to act in North Korean propaganda films.
The complaint states that Eastwood is requesting millions of dollars in damages.
One of the CBD firms, Sera Labs, has stated that that they worked with an online publisher that had used Mr. Eastwoods’s name and likeness without their knowing.
What’s the lesson here folks? Do not violate trademark infringement laws, especially against people who can afford lawyers.
And to Clint Eastwood: Please don’t sue us!