Online Marketing Law: Degeneres and Bullock Sue A Slew of Affiliate Marketers

November 20, 2019

Thousands of websites purposefully designed to resemble legitimate news outlets use fake celebrity endorsements to entice shoppers. But Ellen Degeneres and Sandra Bullock are fed up with the practice and filed a lawsuit against affiliate marketers who engage in the practice.

Fake Endorsement Lawsuit: Degeneres and Bullock v. Online Affiliate Marketers

Sandra Bullock and Ellen Degeneres filed an online marketing lawsuit against 100 anonymous parties that used their names and images, without permission, to sell health and beauty products. According to the filing, the pair joined “forces in this action to expose the celebrity endorsement theft industry.”

E-commerce Factoid: Sixteen percent of online orders originate from an affiliate marketer.

The lawsuit targets websites “designed to look like legitimate and independent news reports or magazine articles about various Beauty products.” It also asserts that posts “on the fake media sites feature comments and endorsements purportedly from Bullock and DeGeneres — all of which are fake and fraudulent and published without Plaintiffs’ consent.”

Legally, the stars cite violations of California’s right of publicity law. False advertising and unfair competition charges are also on the docket. They’re requesting removal injunctions, which would force the defendants to remove offending websites, in addition to compensatory damages.

FTC Rules About Endorsements and Online Comments

Yes, the Federal Trade Commission’s marketing rules are nuanced. Still, the overarching themes are simple. Don’t lie, don’t use public figures’ images to sell your products without express permission, and disclose material relationships. Stick to those three pillars, and you should avoid a run-in with the FTC.

Connect with an FTC Defense Lawyer

The Gordon Law Group helps individuals and businesses secure the best possible outcomes in marketing cases — and we’ve beaten the FTC in court. Remember: Just because the FTC accuses you of wrongdoing doesn’t mean it’s right. Government agencies don’t always win the lawsuits they bring.

Our FTC defense team has worked with a wide variety of companies targeted by the Federal Trade Commission and state authorities. We have the answers you need. Get in touch today to start exploring your options.

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