Tarnishment by association: a new twist

It is well known that fashion labels send celebrities free samples of their wares in the hope that the celebrity will wear the piece in public, be photographed in the process and hopefully inspire others to follow.

But according to this article, this time it's different: Snooki - that's a woman's name, apparently - is a character from MTV's "reality" show Jersey Shore. She is about as trashy as anyone can be. But she gets a lot of media attention (for the next 15 minutes or so at least). So designer labels send her the latest "must have" purses. But, and that's the punchline: those of their competitors... association with Snooki is obviously considered seriously detrimental to your brand image.

Ever the lawyer, this Kat wonders: is this actionable (leaving questions of proof aside)? The intention is clearly tarnishment of the competitor's trade mark, but it doesn't seem to fit into any well-established categories of tarnishment.
Tarnishment by association: a new twist Tarnishment by association: a new twist Reviewed by Mark Schweizer on Monday, August 23, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. Tortious interference with trade? I dimly recall there being some old cases where there was no requirement for an extant contractual relationship to be interfered with.

    If anyone can track down Burberry's legal department, I imagine they have a significant institutional memory about this type of scenario.

  2. 'Might be a stretch but could one squeeze it into the tort of malicious falsehood, in particular slander of goods - "so cheap, Snooki buys it"

  3. Wow...what a fantastic idea to send a competitors products to an 'undesirable' for public display/use...may have to start using that myself!

    Since there is nothing to stop said celeb/undesirable from having purchased the item themselves, I think that proving that such items were provided with this intent in mind might be an issue. Not to mention the possibility of some form of action from someone such as 'Snooki' were you to label them in court proceedings as being sufficiently undesirable...!

    I certainly wouldn't like to try my hand at reaching a positive outcome in the courts!


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