“GC by George Clooney” Dispute

I recently noticed some publicity about a court case in Italy involving a clothing line using the trademark “GC by George Clooney” which has no affiliation with the popular actor George Clooney.  Looking at this online write up of the dispute (source here), it strikes me that one could construct a neat exam hypothetical in the TM/personality rights area from these facts:

“Does George Clooney dress well off and on the screen? Thanks to Giorgio Armani, he does. No one wears a suit better. Which is what some Italian entrepreneurs in Milan thought two years ago, when they cooked up a clothing line called GC by George Clooney. Problem is, the superstar had nothing to do with it. The fraudulent business people even organized a show in a Milan hotel and used the actor’s name to promote the line. But this week, the real George Clooney – who has a home in Lake Como, Italy – had to appear in an [sic] Milan court to play out a lawsuit against the people who used his name without consent, permission, or even an attempt to contact him. Of course, there was a crush of cameras in the Milan court, but Clooney remained cool throughout, even cracking jokes. Only one defendant — Vincenzo Cannalire — attended the trial. He and associates apparently forged Clooney’s name – and photo – on many documents. They even claimed Clooney was dating one of their female partners, and doctored pictures to insinuate that. Clooney turned to greet him after recognizing the man from of the photos he was looking at. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen him,” Clooney said, motioning to the defendant. Then with he added, “So I’d like to say hello, nice to meet you.” So if you’re in Italy and someone tries to sell you clothes by George Clooney – buy Armani instead. But – perhaps someone should get Clooney to design and back a line of mens’ clothes. It would probably be extremely cool – and well tailored.”

(source, Fashion Rules!)