Strip Clubs Spanked for Ad Depicting Carmen Electra

Carmen Electra wished her fans “Season Greetings” with this photo on Dec. 15, 2018. (Image via Facebook)

MANHATTAN (CN) – Three New York City strip clubs were hit with a federal injunction Thursday after using supermodel Carmen Electra in an advertisement without permission.

The former “Baywatch” actress had joined a group of women who sued the owners of New York Dolls, Private Eyes Gentlemen’s Club and Flashdancers Gentlemen’s Club in 2015, but the clubs tried to put the blame on a third-party, saying it was the responsibility of marketing contractors to secure the rights.

Though she issued an injunction to Electra, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald found Thursday that the 10 lesser-known models and actresses who brought trademark claims as well are entitled to no relief.

“These plaintiffs negotiated with a willing buyer and were paid the fair market value for any and all rights to the images,” U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in a 43-page ruling on Thursday. “To allow plaintiffs to be compensated a second time would be a clear windfall.”

Buchwald declined to award Electra any compensation, however, and she found little support for the claims of the other models that the use of their images defamed them by depicting them as exotic dancers.

“At worst, the evidence shows that defendants failed to investigate the status of their or their contractors’ rights to use plaintiffs’ images, which in and of itself is insufficient as a matter of law to prove actual malice,” she wrote.

The only trademark claim that Buchwald found passed muster was Electra’s.

“Electra’s uncontroverted resume establishes that she has not just appeared in popular movies and television shows, but had regular and starring roles in them,” her opinion states. “She is a recording artist that has released a self-titled album under a well-known record label. Brands and businesses have placed value in her appearances to the tune of millions of dollars. These achievements are indicia of a strong mark.”

Earning $5 million between 2009 and 2012, Electra’s income towers over those of her co-plaintiffs: ranging from Sheena Lee Weber at $400 to Jesse Golden at $92,000 in years where the women reported paychecks from modeling.

“Unlike plaintiff Electra, none of these other plaintiffs offered evidence of significant income earned through their various appearances,” the opinion states.

Buchwald found that all of the women signed contracts granting unlimited use of the images at issue, which appear as exhibits in the case docket.

“The clubs did not garner any additional profits from using plaintiffs’ images, and there is no evidence of an increase in revenue attributable to any special events that were promoted through the use of plaintiffs’ images,” the opinion states.

An attorney for Electra and the other women did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. Neither did the counsel for the clubs and their corporate owners.

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