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Oscar winner Sandra Bullock has settled a lawsuit with a watch maker over a product advertised as the "Bullock watch."
Company ToyWatch USA was sued two years ago by the actress after it began promoting a diamond-encrusted watch as "the Sandra Bullock watch." The white-banded timepiece was described by ToyWatch USA as identical to the one Bullock wore in her Oscar-winning role in "The Blind Side."
The terms of the "Bullock watch" settlement were not revealed, but what was Bullock's beef with this watch?
Celebrities and even average persons have the rights to control and profit from the commercial use of their names, likenesses, and personas. These rights are what keep shows like "Cops" from using a person's face on air without his or her permission (and paying him or her for the privilege).
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bullock filed suit in March 2012 against ToyWatch USA for the unauthorized and unpaid "exploitation of her name, image, identity, and persona." In the ToyWatch USA product descriptions, the "Bullock watch" was described as the exact one worn by Bullock in "The Blind Side." And the customer reviews seem to agree.
Bullock isn't the first celebrity to get her dial all twisted by a company using her name or likeness to hock its merchandise. Kim Kardashian sued Old Navy in 2011 for using a model who she alleged was designed to trick the public into believing that Kim was appearing in its commercials. Even TV's Judge Judy sued a law firm for using clips of her show in its ads, giving the appearance of an endorsement or affiliation.
These kinds of claims are covered under the Lanham Act, which for the most part regulates the use of trademarks. Advertising is likely to violate the Lanham Act if it is likely to confuse consumers as the source or maker of the goods or services.
The "Sandra Bullock watch" seems pretty likely to confuse consumers that it is somehow either associated with Bullock or at least "The Blind Side." According to the Reporter, Bullock claims that the "Sandra Bullock watch" also infringes on the commercial use of the slogan "Sandra Bullock," which has been used "for more than 30 years."
For the record, we thought "Bullock watch" was a celebrity gossip site for Sandra Bullock-related news. And we still remember Bullock more for this: