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Carson v. Here’s Johnny Portable Toilets, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
698 F.2d 831 (1983)


Facts

Here’s Johnny Portable Toilets, Inc. (the company) rented and sold portable toilets. John Carson (Carson) was the host of The Tonight Show, and the show’s announcer would introduce Carson with the well-known phrase “Here’s Johnny.” Early Braxton, founder of the company, knew that the public associated the phrase “Here’s Johnny” with Carson, and admitted that he would not have selected that name if the phrase had not been associated with Carson. Carson (plaintiff) sued the company (defendant) for unfair competition and invasion of privacy and publicity rights. The district court dismissed the complaint, finding that Carson failed to satisfy the “likelihood of confusion” test on his unfair competition claim, and that the right of privacy and right of publicity extended only to a name or likeness, which the phrase “Here’s Johnny” was not. Carson appealed.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)

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Dissent (Kennedy, J.)

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