After Getting Slapped Down Over Implied Alfonso Ribeiro Endorsement, Roca Labs Tries With Tommy Chong
from the is-it-real? dept
The Roca Labs saga continues. As you may recall, the company is suing PissedConsumer and a former customer while threatening lawsuits against many others (including us). Part of the issue is that it makes customers agree never to say anything negative about the company in exchange for a “discount.”
There was a somewhat odd side story a week and a half ago, in which Roca tried to use a statement it had posted to PissedConsumer (and to its own website) about actor Alfonso Ribeiro in what was clearly implied to be an endorsement. Except that Ribeiro’s lawyers stepped in and made it clear Ribeiro had never endorsed the product and they demanded that all such uses be taken down. As his lawyers noted:
Ribeiro unequivocally is not, has never been and has no intention of ever becoming a paid spokesperson of the Product [Roca Labs]. Furthermore, Ribeiro has never personally used the Product and in no manner whatsoever endorses the Product.
The unauthorized Review and deceitful use of Ribeiro’s name, image, likeness and falsely attributed quotes violates California Civil Code Section 3344, invades Ribeiro’s common law rights of privacy and publicity, amounts to unfair competition, is an unfair business practices, and constitutes copyright infringement, among other causes of action.
As I said at the time, I’m not sure the unfair competition or copyright infringement claims would fly, but a falsely implied endorsement is exactly what publicity rights laws were designed to deal with. Pretty quickly, the page about Ribeiro disappeared from Roca’s site.
One of our readers, jonr pointed out that it appears the photos of Ribeiro actually came from a Dancing With the Stars “backstage gifting suite” in which the participants in the show are photographed with various sponsor products. Given the smackdown from Ribeiro’s lawyers, you might think that Roca would be careful about still using his image in any sort of implied endorsement. And yet, Roca has put up an entire page with photographs from the event and what appears to be implied endorsements. The page says “the stars are impressed with Roca Labs.” And the first star at the top of the page is Ribeiro, which is interesting, given his lawyers earlier claims.
There’s also some photos with Tommy Chong. And just a little while ago, Roca Labs posted on Facebook what certainly looks like yet another implied endorsement from Tommy Chong. Sure, it doesn’t directly say he endorses it. It just says “Tommy Chong holds the Roca Labs” products, but that would appear to imply an endorsement.