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Henley. v. Dillard Department Stores

United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas
46 F. Supp. 2d 587 (1999)


Facts

Donald Henley (plaintiff) was a popular rock musician and former member of The Eagles. Dillard Department Stores (Dillard) (defendant) ran an advertisement for henley-style shirts that featured a play on words using Henley’s name. The advertisement showed a man wearing a henley-style shirt with the caption, “This is Don’s henley.” Henley sued Dillard for infringing on his right of publicity and other claims. Henley provided survey evidence indicating that 15 percent of respondents believed that Henley had endorsed the product. In deposition testimony, the advertisement’s designer stated that the advertisement was meant to be a play on words referencing Henley’s name and that she used Henley’s name to create an eye-catching advertisement. A Dillard’s vice-president testified that the words “Don’s henley” added no commercial value to the advertisement. Dillard argued that the reference to Henley was only incidental to the advertisement, which focused on the product itself. Dillard also argued that the advertisement provided no actual commercial benefit, because Dillard did not increase sales adequately to cover the cost of the ad campaign. Henley moved for partial summary judgment on the right of publicity claim.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Solis, J.)

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