Given the vast number of celebrities who have endorsed cannabis products in the past few years, a recent news story suggesting that Clint Eastwood had retired from the film industry to get involved in the CBD business did not seem particularly shocking. The news came as a surprise to Eastwood himself, though, as he apparently had no plans to enter the cannabis industry at all.
The 90-year-old actor and director just filed two lawsuits in a Los Angeles federal court accusing CBD companies of using his name and likeness to advertise their products without his permission. The court documents allege that the companies created fake news stories claiming the actor was quitting films to focus on the CBD business. These lawsuits target nearly 20 different companies from Arizona, California, Delaware, Michigan, and Florida, but may also expand to include up to 80 additional companies.
“This action arises from an online scam that uses a false, defamatory, and wholly fabricated ‘news article’ about Mr. Eastwood to promote and sell cannabidiol (’CBD’) products,” states one of the two lawsuits. “The fraudulent ‘article’ prominently features photographs of Mr. Eastwood and references a fabricated interview with Mr. Eastwood in which he touts his purported line of CBD products. In truth, Mr. Eastwood has no connection of any kind whatsoever to any CBD products and never gave such an interview.”
The lawsuit asserts that the actor is “fiercely protective of his name and image, and has rarely licensed either for the promotion of products,” other than movies he has been involved with. “Like many of his famous characters, Mr. Eastwood is not afraid to confront wrongdoing and hold accountable those that illegally profit off his name and likeness.”
Eastwood is seeking millions of dollars in damages for the false advertising claims, an amount calculated to sufficiently “deter unlawful conduct by defendants in the future,” according to the court document.
The legal action targets 10 companies who allegedly used programming hacks to insert the actor’s name into online search results for CBD products, in order to trick customers into believing that he was repping these products. Three other CBD companies — Sera Labs Inc., Greendios, and For Our Vets LLC — are also said to be responsible for the fake news story.
Sera Labs has said that a third-party advertising company is actually to blame for the fiasco. A representative from Sera told the New York Post that they hired a company to market their product using “strict guidelines” which did not include faking a celebrity endorsement. When the CBD company discovered that the advertising firm was illegally using Eastwood's likeness to advertise their product, they reportedly “shut down the ads” immediately.
“Sera’s internal guidelines vividly prohibit using celebrities or false claims in its ads, and [the ad company] used completely different ads that had been switched out for the Eastwood ad without any knowledge,” the spokesperson told the Post.
Eastwood is not the only celebrity whose likeness has been used to sell CBD products without their consent. Tom Hanks has also had to deny fake claims that he was endorsing specific brands of CBD products on multiple occasions.