Hallmark settles with Paris Hilton

Associated Press / September 29, 2010

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hallmark Cards Inc. says a greeting card using Paris Hilton’s “that’s hot’’ catch phrase and image was meant as a parody. But the celebrity socialite apparently didn’t appreciate the humor.

The greeting card giant and the hotel heiress have reached a settlement in a three-year-old lawsuit over the card, a company spokeswoman said yesterday.

The deal was sealed, and Hallmark spokeswoman Julie O’Dell declined to provide details. Hilton’s lawsuit had sought a half-million dollars.

Hilton’s attorneys had said the company misappropriated Hilton’s image and her catch phrase, which she trademarked in 2007, before the lawsuit was filed.

“This was a calculated way to use Miss Hilton’s actual photo, name, and catch phrase by Hallmark to draw attention to Hallmark’s product,’’ Brent Blakely, Hilton’s attorney, said.

Blakely said the case was significant in that it gave courts direction on how to judge a case dealing with the right of free speech versus the right of someone to control and profit from their persona. A trial had been scheduled to begin in December.

Hallmark attorneys had argued that using Hilton’s face on top of a cartoonish image was “transformative,’’ meaning the image had been changed enough that it became Hallmark’s own expression.