Friday, July 27, 2012

Supreme Court case had an Olympic connection

With the official Opening Ceremony today for the London 2012 Olympics, it’s interesting to note that the Ohio Supreme Court decided an Olympic-related case in 1984.

The dispute centered on the American Can Company, Coca-Cola Company and Minute Maid Corporation promoting the likeness of Olympic athletes on disposable Dixie cups in commemoration of the 1980 Olympic Games.

Ohioan Charles Vinci, an Olympic gold medal winner in 1956 and 1960 in weightlifting, sued the companies in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court for using his name and likeness without his permission. He asked the trial court to certify the case as a class action, which it did.

The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s class action certification, and the Supreme Court affirmed the appeals court.

As for the eventual outcome of the case, the Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled in 1990 that the reference to the athletes’ names, likenesses and identities was merely incidental, historical information. The appeals court agreed with the trial court and affirmed its ruling.

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