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Caption: Lahr V. Adell Chemical Co.

Essay by   •  March 27, 2019  •  Case Study  •  399 Words (2 Pages)  •  26 Views

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Caption: Lahr v. Adell Chemical Co.

Facts: Lahr is a professional entertainer who has achieved stardom with commensurate financial success on the legitimate stage in motion pictures, on radio, television, and other entertainment media throughout the United States, Canada and elsewhere. His distinctive style of vocal comic is widely known and readily recognized as a unique and extraordinary comic character. In advertising its product “Lestoil” on television, the Adell Chemical Company, without Lahr’s consent, used a cartoon film of a duck whose voice is from an actor who specialized in imitating Lahr’s voice. Lahr alleged that the vast public television audience believed that the sound of the duck came from Lahr himself.

Lahr believed that this was a misappropriation of his vocal sound, an injury to his reputation, and a trading upon his fame and renown. He alleged three causes – for unfair competition, for invasion of privacy and for defamation.

Procedure: The complaint was dismissed for failure to state a cause of action. The plaintiff appealed again. Judgment will be entered vacating the judgment of the District Court and remanding the case to that court for further proceedings not inconsistent herewith.

Issue: Did Adell Chemical Company infringe Lahr’s rights?

Holding: No

Reasoning: In terms of the right of privacy: Plaintiff’s enlarged the voice of the duck to his identity. His allegations in this respect were not insufficient. Whether audible identification was enough in a field where imitation is easy, and perhaps properly suspect is a matter that could not be decided upon the bare allegations of a complaint. Plaintiff’s additional assertion that an inferior imitation damaged his reputation was invalid, because if every time one can allege “Your commercial sounded like me, but not so good,” and contend the public believed that it was he, and at the same time believed, because of the variance, that his abilities had declined, the consequences would be too great to contemplate. Furthermore, there is no absolute test of excellence in dramatic performance. In terms of unfair competition, plaintiff here was not complaining of imitation in the sense of simply copying his material or his ideas, but of causing a mistake in identity. Such passing off is the basic offense. Plaintiff’s complaint is that defendant’s commercial had greater value because its audience believed it was listening to him. Such enhancement was true as plaintiff alleged a peculiar style and type of performance, unique in a far broader sense.

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