TV Star Earns Right to Fight Robotic Imposter With AM-Scotus Rdp, Bjt
Jun. 01, 1993
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nobody turns a letter like Vanna White, and the Supreme Court is letting the TV game show hostess fight to protect that image against robotic impostors.
The robot in the Samsung magazine ad didn't really look like the ''Wheel of Fortune'' star - even in its blond wig, gown and jewels.
But company's claim that it had a free-speech right to parody the TV personality in its advertisements didn't work on the Supreme Court, which rejected the argument Tuesday without comment.
White can now go forward with her lawsuit filed in 1988 claiming Samsung Electronics America and David Deutsch Associates, which prepared the ad, exploited her image without her permission.
The ad featured a glamorously dressed robot next to a board of large letters, such as the one used for ''Wheel of Fortune,'' as part of a campaign showing Samsung products still being used in the 21st century.
White claims it violated her right to publicity under California law and created confusion over whether she was endorsing the product.
Earlier a federal judge had dismissed the lawsuit, saying the robot could not be mistaken for any person, including White.
But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the right to the publicity claim and the federal claim regarding a possible endorsement.
The ad does not have stronger constitutional protection than other types of commercial speech simply because its creators consider it a parody, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.