LOS ANGELES (LALATE) – The Melissa Molinaro case is about Kim Kardashian and Old Navy. But could Paris Hilton be brought into the picture? Melissa Molinaro (photos below) is not named in the lawsuit, rather her employer. Nor is Paris Hilton; but a Hilton legal decision last year before the 9th Circuit (where Kardashian’s case has been filed) could be critical to the Old Navy case.
Molinaro’s ties to the plaintiff far extend being cast in a commercial to sell clothes. When the Melissa Molinaro Old Navy commercial appeared earlier this year, Kim Kardashian remained silent. Kardashian, who has perfected the art of publicity, was uncharacteristically quiet about the commercial.
Months passed, and then suddenly Melissa Molinaro was dating the man Kim Kardashian once bragged that she would marry. Within weeks of the Molinaro dating Reggie Bush, Kardashian filed the suit against Old Navy, claiming that they used her likeness without her permission. And while Kardashian’s personal assertions of wishing to protect her image are clearly valid, news of the lawsuit prompted a massive backlash against the embattled reality TV star yesterday.
When Melissa Molinaro appeared in the Old Navy commercial, she looked like Kim Kardashian. But when LALATE first started reporting on Kim Kardashian, years before she had a TV show and simply hosting nightclub parties in Hollywood, Kardashian was offered referenced as resembling Nicole Scherzinger.
Melissa Molinaro vs Kim Kardashian Pictures Set 1
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But could a Paris Hilton case play out in the Kim Kardashian dispute with Old Navy? In 2007, Kim Kardashian’s friend Paris Hilton sued Hallmark Cards over the dubbed “That’s hot” greeting cards. The suit derived from a February 13, 2007 trademark procured by Hilton for “That’s Hot”. Kardashian’s claims derive from rights of publicity, not specifically use of a registered trademark.
However, Hilton sued Hallmark for “commercial appropriation of identity, invasion of privacy, misappropriation of publicity, false representation that Hilton endorses the product, and infringement of a federally registered trademark”. The card sold for roughly $2.49. Hilton’s attorney at the time was Brent Blakely.
Melissa Molinaro vs Kim Kardashian Pictures Set 2
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Hallmark’s Hulie O’Dell defended the cards in 2007 as permissible parody. “Some of Hallmark’s new humor greeting cards are parodies of today’s most popular celebrities and politicians. These cards take a satirical look at news and gossip surrounding these public figures, including Paris Hilton, and we do not believe Hallmark has violated any of Ms. Hilton’s rights.”
Old Navy may assert that its commercial too was simply a parody.
The Court didn’t exactly agree with Hallmark on appeal. In 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave Hilton a hot verdict, reportedly rejecting Hallmark’s protected-speech argument. The case was set for trial in December 2010. In September, Reuters confirmed the parties settled.
Who else might be watching this suit? The answer could be Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag. Just this May, Virgin Mobile debuted a new commercial called “Sparah”, a stylized fake couple resembling Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag (Speidi).