Unauthorised use of model’s photograph results in massive damages against Nestlé

March 2005


In 1986 Russell Christoff (58), now a nursery school teacher but then a male model, sat for a two hour session for Nestlé for which he was paid $250 (about £130). Over fifteen years later in 2002 he discovered that, unbeknown to him, his face had been adorning Nestlé’s ‘Tasters Choice’ for over a decade. Having checked his original contract Mr Christoff found that as a minimum payment he was due $2,000 if his image was used. But this right, coupled with a Californian state law which is designed to protect celebrities image rights, led to a claim for over $8.6 million which eventually resulted in a Jury in the Los Angeles County Superior Court awarding damages of $15.6 million. This was based on a fee payment of $330,000 for use of his image plus 5% of the profits from the Tasters Choice brand. His face had been used on labels in the US, Israel, Japan, Kuwait and South Korea and had even been used as a screen saver. Nestlé will appeal the award.

Source: The Times, 2 February 2005

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