Paris Hilton cards lawsuit settled
Paris Hilton and greetings card giant Hallmark have reached a settlement over the company using her catchphrase.
Hallmark Cards Inc said a greeting card using Paris's "that's hot" catchphrase and image was meant as a parody - but the socialite's lawyers had said the company misappropriated Paris's image and her catchphrase, which she trademarked in 2007, months before the lawsuit was filed against Hallmark.
Paris's lawsuit had sought a half-million dollars, but a Hallmark spokeswoman would not provide details of the settlement.
"All I can say is we did settle," she said. "We were able to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion."
Brent Blakely, Paris's lawyer, said: "This was a calculated way to use Miss Hilton's actual photo, name and catch phrase by Hallmark to draw attention to Hallmark's product."
Blakely said the case was significant in that it gave courts direction on how to judge a case dealing with the right of free speech versus the right of someone to control and profit from their persona. A trial had been scheduled to begin in December.
"All the trial was going to be about is, what is the commercial value of Paris Hilton's likeness," he said. "In many situations, that is based on comparables. Fortunately in our case, Miss Hilton has numerous endorsement deals and we had a good idea [of her commercial value]."
Hallmark lawyers had argued that using Paris's face on top of a cartoonish image was "transformative," meaning the image had been changed enough that it became Hallmark's own expression, the Kansas City Star reported. The company said the card warranted a "public interest" defence.
But that argument was rejected last year by an appellate court because a birthday card "does not publish or report information," according to the ruling.