Actor-director Clint Eastwood is taking aim at two companies that have used his name to promote CBD products without his consent, making clear that the 60-year Hollywood veteran has never been involved in the cannabis business.
In federal lawsuits filed Wednesday — among the first against ingestible health supplement companies for faking celebrity endorsements — Eastwood seeks damages and a jury trial over his right of publicity and for trademark infringement, according to filings submitted to the Central District Court of California.
While not offering a view on CBD itself, Eastwood’s lawyers are seeking millions of dollars worth in damages “sufficient to deter unlawful conduct by defendants in the future.”
The Oscar-winning actor and director of such films as “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby” is the latest in Hollywood to fight back against companies using their images to create what look like real articles or ads involving the stars only to funnel consumers to products they have nothing to do with.
“My client is not one to sit idly by as the defendants use his good name to dupe customers into purchasing products with which he has no affiliation,” said Jordan Susman, attorney representing Eastwood at Nolan Heimann LLP. The lawsuits “should also serve as a reminder to customers to be cautious when they see a too-good-to-be-true celebrity endorsement. I expect these lawsuits will send a message to others about what will happen if they spread false and defamatory statements about Mr. Eastwood or use his name and likeness without permission.”
Last November, Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock and comedian Ellen DeGeneres filed similar suits against different beauty companies for claiming the stars used the products to keep them looking young.
“It is a real phenomenon that is pervasive,” said lawyer Douglas Mirell of Greenberg Glusker, who has represented celebrities in similar cases. “It’s just a question of how much time and effort one wants to devote to try to police the market.”
The 90-year-old Eastwood, known for his roles in legendary Hollywood westerns, rarely grants third-party licenses, reserving the exploitation of his personality rights for business ventures in which he is personally involved, his lawyers said in their filings Wednesday.
In one case, Eastwood sued Florida-based Norok Innovation Inc., California nonprofit CBD Green Labs, Mabsut Life and Michigan-based Natural Stress Solutions for using his celebrity to drive traffic to websites without his consent.
“Defendants have figuratively posted a sign with Mr. Eastwood’s trademark in front of their online store to attract consumers and caused the consuming public to believe that Mr. Eastwood is associated with and/or endorsed the CBD Online marketplace Defendants’ CBD products, when no such association actually exists,” the lawsuit states.
Eastwood’s company Garrapata LLC filed a similar lawsuit against another group of businesses, including Delaware-incorporated Sera Labs Inc., California-based Greendios and Arizona’s For Our Vets LLC. They created “a false, defamatory, and wholly fabricated ‘news article’ to sell and promote CBD products,” according to the filing.
Representatives for the companies involved were not available for comment.
“By this action, Mr. Eastwood seeks to hold accountable the persons and entities that wrongfully crafted this scheme, spread false and malicious statements of facts about him, and illegally profited off of his name and likeness,” Eastwood’s case read.
The lawsuit states that one of the defendants sent emails with a fabricated article from NBC’s “Today” with a picture of Eastwood under the headline “Breaking News: Clint Eastwood Exposes Shocking Secret Today.”
The Better Business Bureau said in December millions of consumers are being scammed with fake endorsements and such scams have cost consumers more than $1.3 billion in the last decade.