Academy Award winning director Woody Allen filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan seeking $10 Million from American Apparel for use of his image without permission. The lawsuit states that the actor and director does not endorse commercial products or services in the United States.
Allen’s image (shown at right courtesy of Frillr.com), appeared on two billboards in New York and Los Angeles for one week in May 2007. Allen appears as a Hasidic Jew, a character from his movie “Annie Hall”. The lawsuit calls the billboards “especially egregious and damaging.”
In a statement, American Apparel defended their use of Allen’s image as “Social Parody” protected by the First Amendment. They also stated “We had no intention of selling garments through the use of Mr. Allen’s image … We will make every effort to resolve this with Mr. Allen in an amicable way.”
In addition to its clothing line, American Apparel, based in Los Angeles is known for its colorful CEO Dov Charney and its political efforts in favor of immigration reform.
Was this “Social Parody”, infringement or just an effort to generate publicity? While we may never know for sure, I predict it will go away quietly with a monetary settlement.