Property Keyed to French
Wendt v. Host Int’l, Inc.
George Wendt and John Ratzenberger (Plaintiffs), actors in the TV showCheers, sued Host International and Paramount Picture Corporation (Defendants). Host created robotic figures that Plaintiffs claimed were based on their likenesses, and placed them in airport bars that were modeled on theCheersset. Plaintiffs sued based on California’s statutory and common law rights of publicity, and for unfair competition in violation of the federal Lanham Act. The district court dismissed the claims after it compared photographs of Plaintiffs with photographs of the robots and determined that the robots did not resemble Plaintiffs. The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the trier of fact must compare the actual robots with the actual actors. The district court then granted summary judgment for Defendants a second time after the judge visually inspected the robots. Plaintiffs appealed again.
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