Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino recently sued Abercrombie & Fitch for trademark infringement, false and deceptive advertising, and right of publicity violations. Abercrombie & Fitch issued a press release asking Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino to stop wearing their clothing while on the reality television show, the Jersey Shore. In the press release, A&F stated that Sorrentino was contrary to the "aspirational nature of the [Abercrombie] brand." According to the complaint, A&F embarked on a worldwide advertising campaign using Sorrentino's name, image and likeness to create brand awareness for its clothes by falsely claiming that A&F had offered money to Sorrentino if he would stop wearing A&F's clothes. Sorrentino alleges that A&F then intentionally marketed and distributed t-shirts containing an obvious reference to Sorrentino and his trademarks on its website and in its stores, including shirts that stated "The Fitchuation" and "GTL...You Know The Deal." Sorrentino asserts that these references infringe his registered trademarks for "The Situation" and "GTL" and are likely to cause confusion among consumers who are likely to believe that Sorrentino endorses A&F in violation of the Lanham Act and Florida's Deceptive Advertising and Right of Publicity statutes.
TIP: Press releases are likely to be considered advertising and must be reviewed in view of applicable copyright, trademark and right of publicity laws just like than any other advertising.