A Lithuania-based CBD distributor will have to pay Eastwood $6.1 million for using his likeness without his permission.
Clint Eastwood and the company that owns the rights to his likeness, Garrapatta, have won a multi-million-dollar settlement from a Lithuania-based company accused of using the actor’s image to endorse their products.
The New York Times reports that Eastwood filed two separate lawsuits against three cannabidiol (CBD) manufacturers and marketers whose products were featured in an online article falsely claiming that Eastwood endorsed CBD products. The complaint, filed in a Los Angeles federal court, also named as defendants 10 online retailers accused of manipulating search results to make the CBD-related articles show up higher in search result listings.
The lawsuit, adds the Times, said that the article contained a fake interview with Eastwood, presented by an outlet intended to resemble the “Today” show. It included a picture of Eastwood, taken from one of the actor’s actual appearances.
The article’s text suggested that Eastwood had abandoned Hollywood to promote CBD sales, saying that, while the decision was difficult, he believed the marijuana-related compound offered him “something bigger than movies.”
The article contained multiple links to sections and websites offering CBD sales.
In his ruling, Judge R. Gary Klausner of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered a default judgment on Eastwood’s behalf after the accused Lithuania-based company, Mediatonas UAB, failed to respond to summons issued in March.
Judge Klausner then awarded Eastwood and Garrapatta about $6 million damages for Mediatonas’ unauthorized use of the actor’s image and likeness, as well as $95,000 in attorneys’ fees.
Klausner’s ruling also includes a permanent injunction blocking Mediatonas from ever using Eastwood’s name or 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,” Eastwood attorney Jordan Susman said in a statement.
While Klausner’s ruling represents a victory for Eastwood and Garrapatta, the judge did decline their request for defamation-related damages.
In his determination, Klausner said that most people would not immediately interpret Mediatonas’ inappropriate use of Eastwood’s image and likeness to be libelous.
“It requires additional context to understand what CBD products are and why a person like Clint Eastwood would not endorse a marijuana-based product,” Klausner wrote, finding that the language used by Mediatonas “was not libelous on its face.”
Eastwood, though, was nonetheless pleased, with the 91-year-old actor saying he hoped the judgment would teach “scammers” a lesson.
“I am pleased with the court’s ruling,” Eastwood told The New York Post, “and believe this judgment sends a powerful message to other online scammers who might try to illegally use someone’s name and reputation to sell their products.”