The White v. Samsung case is well known and carried in a number of texts. Vanna White, the hostess of TV's Wheel of Fortune, sued Samsung and its advertising agency for producing, without her permission, a print ad that featured a robot dressed in a blonde wig and evening gown, and standing in Vanna's signature pose beside the Wheel of Fortune letter board. Where, as here, the ad did not use Vanna's likeness or name, the 9th Circuit determined that Samsung's actions may still constitute an infringement upon the common law right of publicity. My favorite line from the opinion shows the court's willingness to protect the publicity right even though the judges are clearly unimpressed by Vanna's "talent."
Television and other media create marketable celebrity identity value. Considerable energy and ingenuity are expended by those who have achieved celebrity value to exploit it for profit. The law protects the celebrity's sole right to exploit this value whether the celebrity has achieved her fame out of rare ability, dumb luck, or a combination thereof.
The court relied heavily on Midler v. Ford.
Samsung filed a motion for re-hearing. Though denied, the thoughtful dissent is oft cited.
A related case that students may be interested in hearing about is the Keller case involving NCAA Athletes' publicity rights in the use of their "images" in video games. Anastasios Kaburakis from St. Louis University has a recent publication on that case.
For those of you who have searched for many years for a copy of the original Samsung ad, I hope you will be pleased to see, below, an image that I believe to be the full ad minus only the caption as quoted in the decision, ""Longest-running game show. 2012 A.D." Source.
See updated post here for a copy of the print ad.
Thanks to Ross Petty at Babson for sharing the following complimentary image of Vanna White: