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Paris Hilton / Hallmark Settlement in Image Dispute

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on September 27, 2010 2:20 PM

Heiress Paris Hilton may have legal troubles that transcend U.S. borders, but the reality star does know how to do one legal thing right: trademark her catch phrase "that's hot". The Paris Hilton Hallmark settlement was announced late last week, drawing to a close the case which pitted Paris against the feel-good cardmaker for damages over $500,000.

E! Online reports on the settlement: "Hallmark had contended the card was a parody protected under the First Amendment and fair-use laws, but that argument was shot down by a federal court of appeals, paving the way for a December trial." Hilton has had the phrase "that's hot" trademarked since February 2007.

The card in question (which was released the same year the phrase was trademarked) featured Hilton as a waitress and used the phrase "that's hot" to describe her first day on the job. The image, Paris argued, was taken from a scene of her hit reality television show, The Simple Life. Paris claimed that Hallmark's card was a trademark violation as well as an invasion of privacy. The specific terms of the settlement are private.

Describing everything from her dinner to her date, Paris was smart to put some legal protection around her go-to phrase. In addition to giving Paris control over how the phrase is used, trademarks can also serve as a source of revenue when another individual or company wants to use it. Trademark and intellectual property laws can get complicated but one thing's for sure: it's hot to trademark. The case was set to go to trail in December but the Paris Hilton Hallmark settlement will free up her calender for some other legal matters she will be dealing with.

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