The Israeli District Court of Tel Aviv ruled against global food giant, Nestle, and its subsidiary Nespresso in a claim filed by them in Israel against Espresso Club, an Israeli company, on the grounds of alleged copyright infringement, trademark violations, unfair competition and damage to Nespresso’s reputation.
The claim was filed after Espresso Club launched an advertising campaign featuring a George Clooney lookalike, which included satirical references to Nespresso’s long-time ad campaign featuring the famous actor.
The Court rejected the Plaintiffs’ claim in full, and accepted the defense arguments presented by Espresso Club via its counsel, Adv. Zohar Lande. In the judgement, the Court ruled that George Clooney, as he appears in Nespresso’s ad campaign, is not a fictional character created by Nespresso, and is no different from Clooney’s public image as an elegant man who enjoys a fine lifestyle. The Court further ruled that Nespresso held no copyright on George Clooney or on his public image, and any such proprietary rights, if they exist, are Clooney’s alone.
In addition, the Court rejected Nespresso’s claim that Clooney is a part of its brand and trademark, and ruled that, in light of the terms of Clooney’s presenter contract with Nespresso, which were presented as evidence, his presence in Nespresso’s brand is a temporary one. The Court further ruled that Espresso Club did not violate any other trademarks belonging to Nespresso in the other elements of its ad campaign- and that Nespresso does not hold a monopoly on charming men in suits, nor on the design of the store shown in the ads or on the camera angles and music used in them.
In its precedential judgement the court noted that modern viewers are aware and discerning, and there is no concern that consumers might be misled by Espresso Club’s campaign. This is especially true, the Court ruled, among coffee drinkers who generally have particular tastes and seek out their preferred brand.