In Mayes v. Summit Entertainment Corp., eight professional models and actresses sued, alleging that a club in Long Island used photos of them in social media advertisements without their permission.
The models brought claims under the Lanham Act for false endorsement. The defendant moved to dismiss, claiming that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that they were sufficiently well-known to cause a likelihood of confusion concerning an association between the club and the models. In denying defendant's motion to dismiss, the judge found, in part, that plaintiffs were sufficiently well-known to cause a likelihood of confusion as evidenced by as many as two million followers on social media.
This recent decision from the Eastern District of New York highlights that, in addition to state law claims for violating a person’s right of publicity, claims can be brought for false association under Federal law.