Media Law Examination

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Richard Miller
Media Law Case Examination
JI v. BOSE CORPORATION and WHITE/PACKERT INC.
09-2341, 09-2342, 09-2343
1st Circuit US Court of Appeals

The case I covered was JI v. BOSE CORPORATION and WHITE/PACKERT INC. In 2004, a model named Ping Ji, was assigned to do a photo shoot by her agency for a photographer names White. Ji's contract with her agency spelled out a limited use of her image. She was paid $1,000 dollars for the photo shoot. On the day of the shoot, the photographer had her sign a release that gave him permission to use her image in ways that went beyond her contract with her agency. A couple of years later, Ping Ji was walking through a Best Buy store and found her image on the side of a Bose Sound System box. After realizing her image was being used to sell thousands of these sound systems, she sued the Bose Corporation and the White/Packert photography company. She claimed the photographer broke their contract and that the Bose Corporation violated the federal trademark law that is defined in the Lanham Act. (15 USC 1051) Since the model had never registered her face as a trademark, she was claiming that Bose Corporation had made her image part of their trademark. The original decision came from US District Judge Nathaniel Gorton for the US District Court of Massachusetts. Judge Gorton's original decision was that Bose Corporation was not in violation of the Lanham Act, but that the photographer had violated his contract with the Ji. Ji as awarded by $10,000 by the jury, which is a common amount for the use of an image like this. They ordered Bose to pay the model but they ordered the photographer to pay the same amount to Bose. They made this ruling because when the model sued Bose, Bose sued the photographer. Following the original court's ruling, all parties appealed. In Bose's appeal they asked for attorney’s fees to be rewarded from the model on the grounds that she lost on the trademark claim. Ji appealed to the US Court of...
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