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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 12190
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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Dear Sirs Scottish brewery BrewDog has today launched Hello

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Dear Sirs

Scottish brewery BrewDog has today launched Hello My Name is XXXXX XXXXX craft beer that carries a satirical image of the Russian president wearing make up on the label.

Most likely this is an unauthorised use of Mr Putin's image which is used for commercial gain by the company. The image has been modified to a caricature-like representation. The image itself is unflattering, uncomplimentary and potentially defamatory as it arguably creates a wrong impression and may be said to be injurious to Mr Putin's reputation. It is unlikely the company would have a copyright over the photograph or be licensed to use it.

Question: What remedies does Mr Putin have under Scottish law? Can Mr Putin or someone on his behalf seek an injunction to stop further production of the image bearing beer bottles? Can he seek monetary compensation commensurate to the amount of profits which the company made by using the unauthorised image on the bottles? Can the company be fined? Any other comments?

Many thanks
Thank you for your question.

As it is the case for many celebrities to use their image to endorse various products if a company uses a celebrity image without permission in an advertisement for their product this may result in passing off if the following is proven:

That at the time of the acts complained of he had a significant reputation or goodwill;

That the actions of the defendant gave rise to a false message which would be understood by a not insignificant section of the general public that his goods have been endorsed, recommended or approved by the claimant (in this case the celebrity).

His remedies are interdict (injunction) to stop the use of the image and damages for loss of reputation (defamation). The quantum of damages would gave no relation to company profits, it would be as assessed by the judge based on the evidence of damage. There is no criminal offence committed so a fine is irrelevant.

I hope this helps. Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you. Just to clarify:

In this case it is quite reasonable to assume that a Russian president would not endorse a brand of Scottish beer especially with make up on his face. Since the public therefore would be unlikely to have been influenced to buy the beer mainly because of Putin's image on the bottle, in these circumstances am I correct that an action for passing off will inevitably fail?

And if so, on what other basis can he get an interdict to stop the use of the image? Defamation only? Would having make up on his face be enough for an action in defamation/loss of reputation?

Thank you.

There may be evidential difficulties which would have to be considered in detail by his advisers but I wouldn't write off the remedy totally. In any event he still has the other remedies of defamation and damages.

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