Trade Mark News & Information

Trademark Lawyers Australia – Federal Circuit Court – Ita Buttrose

Buttrose & Anor v The Senior’s Choice (Australia) Pty Ltd & Anor [2013] FCCA 2050 (5 December 2013)

 Successful application by Ita Buttrose for summary judgment restraining Senior’s Choice from using her name, image or likeness to promote its business.

 This case is an example of poor corporate decision making in managing web site content.

 Senior’s Choice had approached Buttrose for the purpose of discussing a possible endorsement arrangement and, in the course of those discussions, received a photograph of Ita Buttrose. Rather than commit to the expense of proceeding with an authorised endorsement, Senior’s Choice uploaded the photograph to its website with a link to an ABC radio interview with Ita Buttrose and used the photograph alongside advertisements placed on the Seek.com web site. This was done without Buttrose’s authorisation or permission. There was also evidence of Facebook comments criticising the apparent connection between Ita Buttrose and the activities of Senior’s Choice.

Judge Jones was satisfied Buttrose has a substantial reputation amongst the business community and general public in Australia and that corporations and businesses have paid licencing and other fees for the use of her name, image and likeness and/or her sponsorship or endorsement of their products or services.

Her Honour had no hesitation in finding that Senior’s Choice had no reasonable prospect of successfully defending the claims made by Buttrose and that its conduct constituted copyright infringement, passing off and misleading or deceptive conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.