MANHATTAN (CN) – Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and an associate dean at Columbia University Medical Center, claims Semprae Laboratories used her name and photo without her permission to advertise its “flagship” sex drug for women.
In her complaint in New York County Court, Hutcherson says she has practiced medicine for 26 years and has become a public authority on women’s health, through her professional work, “tow books and countless weekly columns” and appearances on “numerous television talk shows.”
The complaint adds: “Dr. Hutcherson’s outreach activities have, over time, resulted in her becoming a well-known and recognizable public advocate in the area of women’s health and sexual satisfaction.
“Dr. Hutcherson is currently a compensated spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson
Services, Inc., in which position she represents and advocates for products similar and/or competitive to those which defendant markets.”
She claims that Semprae has “aggressively marketed” its “flagship” sexual satisfaction drug for women, Zestra.
She claims that, unbeknownst to her, Semprae used her name, image and credential in a full-page ad in the March 14 edition of the magazine “FIRST For Women,” which contained a link to a video of Dr. Hutcherson on “The Rachael Ray Show.”
“The thrust of the advertisement was to promote Zestra to generate profits for Semprae,” the complaint states.
“At no time did Dr. Hutcherson give defendant permission, authorization or consent in any form or manner to use or publish her name, photograph, likeness, credentials or quotes for commercial profit.
“Defendant’s unsanctioned and unauthorized use of Dr. Hutcherson’s name, photograph, likeness, credentials and quotes for its commercial gain has caused Dr. Hutcherson to lose the value that is tied to her image, which she has developed over the years, which she currently contractually capitalizes upon, and which is rightfully hers.”
She claims that Semprae refused to immediately remove her name and image from its website.
She claims: “Moreover, Semprae intentionally and in bad faith used Dr. Hutcherson’s name, photograph, likeness, credentials and quotes for its commercial gain, knowing that this was illegal and unauthorized and after demand was made upon it to cease and desist.
“Dr. Hutcherson’s counsel sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter to Semprae, demanding
that Semprae ‘immediately cease and desist from any use of our client’s name, photograph, likeness, image or quote in any form, including without limitation, in any web page or advertisement, and immediately remove the offending advertisements, name, pictures and images from your web site.’
“Semprae thereafter immediately took down only one of the unauthorized usages
from its websites, tacitly acknowledging the illegality of its unauthorized usage of Dr. Hutcherson’s name, photograph, likeness, credentials and quotes.
“However, Semprae knowingly left other unauthorized usages on its websites, apparently believing that Dr. Hutcherson would fail to discover this.”
She demands more than $1 million in punitive damages.
She is represented by Richard Cohen with Fox Rothschild.