Katherine Heigl has sued drugstore chain Duane Reade for $6 million over Twitter and Facebook posts that contains a photo of her, saying they were published on the company's social media outlets without her permission for advertising purposes.
A spokesperson for the Walgreens-owned company told OTRC.com the firm would not comment on pending litigation. The picture in question is a paparazzi photo from March that shows the 35-year-old "Grey's Anatomy" alum and "Knocked Up" actress walking near one of the pharmacy company's branches in New York City. Heigl's attorney filed her lawsuit at a New York federal court on Wednesday, April 9.
The tweet, which was posted on March 18 and was recently deleted, reads: "Love a quick #DuaneReade run? Even @KatieHeigl can't resist shopping #NYC's favorite drugstore" and links to a story titled "Katherine Heigl Signs with WME After Leaving Creative Artists Agency," located on the website Just Jared, which contains the picture and several similar ones.
The complaint states that on March 19, a day after the tweet was posted, Heigl's lawyer sent Duane Reade a cease and desist letter, demanding that the company "cease its illegal acts and respond immediately," but did not receive a reply.
The complaint describes the actress as a "highly successful television and motion picture actress, producer and celebrity," listing her credits and 2007 Emmy win for "Grey's Anatomy" and adding that her "persona has substantial financial and other value. Duane Reade, the lawsuit states, "misused and misappropriated the photograph for its own commercial advertising, distributing the photo with Duane Reade's own promotional slogans on its Twitter and Facebook accounts, all without Ms. Heigl's knowledge or approval."
The complaint notes that the photo of Heigl is the only celebrity image posted on Duane Reade's Twitter and Facebook pages, and accuses the pharmacy chain of exploiting the actress's image, to "imply falsely" that she "endorses" the company.
"Duane Reade has ignored a written demand that it stop this unlawful activity and brazenly continues to exploit Ms. Heigl's image for commercial gain, despite her strenuous objection," it adds. " For its continuing willful violation of the law, Duane Reade is liable for not less than $6 million in compensatory and punitive or treble damages. While the harm to Ms. Heigl is substantial, she intends to donate all monies recovered in this lawsuit to a charitable foundation, the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation."
The animal welfare charity was established in 2008 in the actress' brother's name. He was killed in a car accident in 1986.
Heigl is demanding a jury trial.
Check out 5 key facts about Katherine Heigl's lawsuit, posted on the website of the New York Post.
1. Katherine Heigl lists several of her movie credits and the money her films have made.
The lawsuit states that Heigl is "a highly successful television and motion picture actress, producer and celebrity. She has starred in the major motion pictures '27 Dresses,' 'The Ugly Truth,' 'Knocked Up,' 'Life As We Know It' and 'New Year's Eve,' among others. According to the film industry's website www.boxofficemojo.com, [Heigl's] films has grossed over one billion dollars worldwide."
The website shows that movies Heigl filmed, dating back to the 1994 movie "My Father the Hero," have grossed more than $1.24 billion worldwide.
"[Heigl] has also appeared in numerous television programs and series, starring in the highly successful long-running television series, 'Grey's Anatomy,' for which [Heigl] revceived a Primetime Emmy Award For Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Dr. Izzie Stevens," the complaint adds.
2. The lawsuit cites Katherine Heigl's possible TV comeback.
It says that Heigl "recently completed filming three motion pictures that will be released in 2014 and 2015 and has been in New York City during the period her likeness was misappropriated by [Duane Reade] while starring in a one-hour pilot for NBC. [Heigl] continues to be in high demand in the entertainment industry."
3. The lawsuit cites Katherine Heigl's popularity online.
"[Heigl] maintains a Twitter account with over 754,000 followers (@KatieHeigl)," the complaint states. A recent search for "Katherine Heigl" on the Google search engine returned over 3.2 million results."
On April 11, following news of the lawsuit, Heigl's Twitter followers totaled more than 760,000 and more than 4.29 million search results for "Katherine Heigl" popped up on Google.
4. Katherine Heigl's complaint notes that she HAS endorsed companies in the past.
"[Heigl]'s picture, image and likeness enjoy widespread recognition and monetary value," the lawsuit states. "To prevent any diminution of that value, [Heigl] has carefully and deliberately protected her valuable professional name, picture, image, likeness and persona -- that is, her legally-recognized right of privacy and publicity -- from exploitation through unauthorized commercial advertising. Accordingly, when [Heigl chooses to endorse a product or service, she is highly selective and well-compensated."
While the complaint does not mention specific brands, in 2013, Heigl starred in a commercial for Vick's ZzzQuil medication (watch video) and she has also endorsed the electronic cigarette brand SmokeStik in the past.
5. Snarky reader responses to Duane Reade's posts are shown.
The lawsuit states that Heigl has "suffered economic and reputational injury" due to the tweet and Facebook posts, including "reputational injury resulting from false endorsement" of Duane Reade's services and products, which it says deprived her of her right to "select what endorsements to grant, including and how those endorsements are presented to and perceived by the public, as evidenced by comments on [Duane Reade's] Twitter page and elsewhere."
This, it says, damages her "ability to control and negotiate endorsement agreements and her valuable rights." The lawsuit includes a screenshot of the tweet, taken on March 18 at 1:47 p.m., that shows it has been retweeted 74 times and favorite 181 (the figures have since increased to 83 and 198).
Users' comments posted below the photo on Duane Reade's Twitter page included statements such as "@DuaneReade @KatieHeigl Hahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahaahahahaha what" and "@DuaneReade @KatieHeighl ROFL."
(Pictured above: Katherine Heigl films a scene for her new TV movie, "State of Affairs," in New York City on March 25, 2014. Credit: Ken Katz / Startraksphoto.com)
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