The guys at American Apparel may consider Woody Allen their spiritual leader, but apparently they didn't read up on his teachings regarding celebrity endorsements, or copyright infringement. Woody's legal team filed a lawsuit yesterday against the clothing company, seeking damages in excess of $10 million for using an unlicensed image of the filmmaker in some of their billboard advertisements. The billboards went up last May in New York and LA, where they were on display for about a week before they got pulled. In the gospel according to Woody: you use an image from one of his films without permission, you get served.
The billboards in question featured an image from Allen's classic movie Annie Hall where he's dressed as a rabbi, next to him appears the phrase "the holy rebbe" written in Yiddish. The lawsuit alleges that the billboards used the image to imply that Woody sponsors the clothing line -- which it pretty obviously does. The big question seems to be how or why did American Apparel decided to go ahead with the billboards without Woody's permission? Did they just forget?
Of all the personalities to mess with, Woody Allen is especially controlling when it comes to his image. According to the legal documents: "Allen does not engage in the commercial endorsement of products or services in the United States." Does he do advertising in countries other than the US? That would be weird. Anyway, someone is in big trouble at American Apparel, or their advertising agency or somewhere -- because they just cost America's favorite t-shirt manufacturer $10M. Oops.