Companies throw themselves at celebrities with the shameless abandon of a bobby soxer at a Frank Sinatra concert. Everyone knows stars are showered with free shit, watches and clothing and shoes and bags and vacations and jewelry. The bigger the name, the more luxe the swag. But now one watchmaker is trying to claim it's not REALLY free.
The Hollywood Reporter points to a twist in Halle Berry's lawsuit against Toywatch S.p.A. and its "brand agents" for using her face in ads without her permission. This actually seems pretty straightforward; you can't just borrow a star's face willy-nilly.
It's too early in the case to know how Toywatch's lawyers will fight back (they've also tried claiming trademark laws don't apply, because they're in Italy), but they're currently gathering info on Berry's swag and whether it came with any conditions. Which suggests they might be prepping an unconventional argument. Via THR:
"To prove that Defendants violated her right of publicity, Plaintiff must prove that her likeness was used without her consent," says the defendants in court documents. "However, if Plaintiff has a history of accepting merchandise from individuals whom she knows are employed by marketing agencies, for example, it is likely that Plaintiff consented to the use of her image when she accepted the subject watch."
Halle Berry's lawyers say: "LOL."
"Such items are gifts and no terms are attached to Plaintiff's receipt of any of these gifts," plaintiffs' lawyers emphasize. "Plaintiff's acceptance or use of such gifts in no way constitutes Plaintiff's consent or authorization to the designer to use images of Plaintiff wearing the items in the designer's marketing, advertising or promotional materials."
Plus, they say, she gives most of it away. Because someone like Halle Berry has enough money to buy whatever she actually wants instead of taking stuff from brands slobbering for a mention in U.S. Weekly.
I'm not a lawyer (DISCLAIMER, MY ADVICE IS WORTHLESS), but it sure seems like Toywatch is reaching. Then again, it would be priceless to watch years of giveaway chickens come home to roost in Hollywood.
Photo via Getty.