George Clooney Look-a-Like Sparks Lawsuit Between Coffee Companies

By George this is a heck of a lawsuit. Nespresso has filed a lawsuit against a coffee competitor that uses a look-a-like of Nespresso’s famous spokesman, George Clooney… but so far the lawsuit isn’t going too well.

Twins?

George Clooney was notorious for not endorsing many products but began appearing in a series of ads for Nespresso. Nespresso sells a series of fancy industrial and home coffee makers that use disposable capsules of coffee. In Israel, a rival company, Espresso Club, started using the ad that can be seen below that features an actor that slightly resembles Clooney. Nespresso didn’t think the ad was funny and sued Espresso Club.
So far, so bad for the not laughing Nespresso. Nespresso initially requested a restraining order preventing Espresso Club from further airing the commercials. This request was denied and the judge awarded Espresso Club 58,500 shekels (about $15,000) in court costs and attorneys’ fees to be paid by Nespresso. The court held that Clooney’s image cannot be protected by Nespresso under intellectual property law. Meaning, if Nespresso owned Clooney’s image the actor couldn’t sponsor any other company. Nespresso also asked the court to award it 200,000 shekels in civil damages for damaging its reputation because the commercials are “parasitic”. Yikes.
In the United States, the argument would be made that the use of Clooney’s image is protected as a parody. The Israeli court, while the reasoning is a bit different, seems to be leaning toward making the decision to dismiss this case. Perhaps the lawyers should ditch the coffee for tea so they can calm down and work out a settlement.