Suit Over Toyota’s B.B. King Ad Dropped


LAS VEGAS (CN) – A lawsuit accusing Toyota and Saatchi & Saatchi of violating copyright in a TV commercial showing B.B. King receiving a long-lost guitar from an admirer was dismissed with prejudice Thursday.
     U.S. District Judge James Mahan granted a joint stipulation to dismiss with prejudice the lawsuit filed by author Eric E. Dahl.
     No explanation was given in the 2-page order.
     Dahl in October 2014 accused defendants of stealing his copyrighted stor y about buying a prototype Gibson Lucille guitar in a Las Vegas pawn shop. Dahl learned it was stolen from B.B. King during a 2009 home invasion.
     He claimed the instrument “was the original ‘Prototype 1’ 80th birthday Gibson Lucille which had been presented to B.B. King on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 2005” by the manufacturer.
     “King had used that guitar in his performances between 2005 and the summer of 2009 when the guitar was stolen from his home,” Dahl said in the complaint. He returned the guitar to King in November that year, and the blues master gave him a signed Gibson Lucille guitar to thank him.
     Dahl told the story in his 2013 book, “B.B. King’s Lucille and the Loves Before Her.”
     Toyota used the story in a commercial promoting the 2015 Camry, though it replaced Dahl with an attractive young woman.
     Dahl sued for copyright infringement and Toyota in March this year unsuccessfully sought dismissal .
     Toyota argued: “The concept of a musician who loses a musical instrument which is later found and returned is not unique to plaintiff nor can he claim copyright protection over all such stories. Nor does the fact that the musician in both stories is Mr. King change that result.”
     Judge Mahan didn’t buy it. “Although general themes and ideas are not copyrightable, parallels to more specific elements of a particular expression are protected,” the judge wrote.
     He found that Dahl “adequately alleges similarities between the plot, characters and sequence of events, among other factors, of the two works.”
     Dahl’s attorney, Jeffrey Galliher, and Toyota’s attorney, Mark A. Hutchison, were not available for comment Thursday.
     Also named as a defendant in the dismissed complaint was Smuggler, Inc.

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