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Wendt v. Host Int'l, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
125 F.3d 806 (1997)


Facts

George Wendt and John Ratzenberger (plaintiffs), actors in the TV show Cheers, brought suit against Host International and Paramount Picture Corporation (defendants). Host created robotic figures that the actors claimed were based on their likenesses, and placed them in airport bars that were modeled on the Cheers set. The actors sued based on California’s statutory and common law rights of publicity, and for unfair competition in violation of the federal Lanham Act. The district court dismissed the claims after it compared photographs of the actors with photographs of the robots and determined that the robots did not resemble the actors. The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the trier of fact must compare the actual robots with the actual actors. The district court then granted summary judgment for the defendants a second time after the judge visually inspected the robots. The actors appealed again.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Fletcher, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Dissent (Kozinski, J.)

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