Copyright Law Intellectual Property Litigation Trademark Law

Getty Images Pays $100K to Settle Car-Freshener Suit

Last month, stock photo giant Getty Images paid $100,000 to Car-Freshener Corp., makers of those ubiquitous tree-shaped air fresheners. Getty Images had several stock photos for license and sale in their catalog that included the famous trademarked fresheners.

The federal lawsuit was filed in November 2009 and was reported on in this blog in October of last year when Getty’s motion to dismiss the case was denied. In settling the case, Getty admitted no wrongdoing and agreed to be penalized $10,000 per incident should any images containing the plaintiff’s trademarks are distributed by Getty; Getty would also have to pay 100% of the legal fees t enforce the judgment and return any licensing fees earned. I am sure Getty has purges its catalog of any of the offending images.

While the settlement amount is a drop in the bucket to Getty, it’s a nice vindication for the little Watertown NY company that created the product. Jody R.A. LaLone, Car-Freshner’s president, said this in a prepared statement to the Watertown Daily Times:

“Getty’s customers thought Getty could give them permission to use the Little Tree air freshener design, which is not the case. . .. We are often surprised — and usually flattered — by how consumers use our products. But this was about Getty making money licensing something they did not own.”

Considering Getty is one of the biggest copyright trollers out there, sending out hundreds and hundreds of extortionate demand letters on a weekly basis, this payment had to stick in their craw. Nothing tastes as bad as a taste of your own medicine.

And if you happen to be in the market for an air-freshener for your car, check out this article from

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