Katherine Heigl Sues Duane Reade Over Twitter, Facebook Pics

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. on April 10, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Actress Katherine Heigl is suing drug-store chain Duane Reade for using her name and image for advertising purposes without her permission.

Duane Reade apparently posted an unauthorized paparazzi photo of the actress on Twitter with the caption "Love a quick #DuaneReade run? Even @KatieHeigl can't resist shopping #NYC's favorite drugstore," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The same photo was posted to Duane Reade's Facebook page.

Heigl is suing the pharmacy under the false advertising clause of the Lanham Act and under New York's right of publicity laws.

False Advertising

The Lanham Act is a federal statute that regulates the use of trademarks in commercial activity, but it also covers federal false advertising claims. In order for Heigl to succeed on her false advertising claim, she must prove that:

  • There was an injury to a commercial interest in reputation or sales,
  • The injury was directly caused by false or deceptive advertising, and
  • Consumers were deceived by ads which caused them not to conduct business with her brand.

According to Reuters, Heigl is "highly selective and well compensated" when she chooses to endorse a product or company. So having Duane Reade use a photo she didn't even authorize while implying that Heigl is endorsing the drug store could be considered false advertising. Plus, if Heigl has other endorsement deals out there that conflict with the Duane Reade brand, the Twitter message could also hurt her contracts with the other companies.

New York Law

The Emmy award-winning actress is also suing Duane Reade under New York's right of privacy law. Right of privacy cases generally involve a person's name or likeness being used for another party's benefit without their permission.

In New York, it's a misdemeanor for a corporation to use the name or picture of any living person for advertising purposes without getting written permission first.

Since Heigl allegedly didn't give the pharmacy permission to use her photo or her name in its tweet and the tweet was used to promote Duane Reade, Heigl may also prevail in her lawsuit under New York law.

The actress is suing Duane Read for $6 million in a New York federal court, according to Reuters.

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