PARIS LOVES THE FIRST AMENDMENT: An unlikely phrase entered into the official record of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ Ninth District in California on Monday: “famous for being famous.” Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain had correctly applied the descriptor to its flag bearer, Paris Hilton, on page two of an opinion, which allows the heiress to continue with a lawsuit against Hallmark Cards Inc. But the talk show punchline material was still jarring tucked amongst the legalese typical of such documents. The ruling stemmed from a suit Hilton filed in September 2007 in U.S. District Court in California that alleged the greeting card giant had used her likeness and catchphrase, “That’s hot,” on a card without her permission. Kansas City, Mo.-based Hallmark moved to have the case dismissed in the lower court, but was denied. The sides argued an appeal in front of a three-judge panel in the circuit court in May. The greeting card firm had argued it had a First Amendment right to use the image. The court rejected its argument, in part, because the card did not “publish or report information.” The case will now return to the lower court in Los Angeles. “No one is free to trade on another person’s name and appearance, and Ms. Hilton is confident that she will prevail on her claims against Hallmark,” Brent Blakely, a lawyer for Hilton, wrote in an e-mail Tuesday.
— Matthew Lynch
September 2, 2009
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