Three days after Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan filed a $100 million lawsuit against E-Trade (ETFC) for unlawfully using her likeness and name during a Super Bowl commercial, the online brokerage has finally responded -- and it isn't backing down.
"While E-Trade doesn't typically comment on pending litigation, we felt it appropriate given the high level of interest in the E-Trade Baby," a company spokesperson said in a statement. "With the E-Trade Baby, our advertising campaign is meant to be witty and memorable, while effectively communicating the powerful investing tools and services offered by E-Trade."
"We believe the claims are without merit and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously in this case," the spokesperson said.
On Monday, Lohan leveled a $100 million lawsuit against E-Trade for unlawfully using her "likeness, name, characterization, and personality." In the commercial, which aired during the Super Bowl and the Olympics, a talkative infant refers to another female baby as "that milkaholic, Lindsay."
Lohan's lawyers argue that she has attained such a level of fame that she is recognizable around the world simply as "Lindsay," much as "Oprah" or "Madonna" are known by single names. "Many celebrities are known by one name only, and E-Trade is using that knowledge to profit," Lohan's lawyer, Stephanie Ovadia, told the New York Post, which broke the news.
New Details From Esquire
Meanwhile, the plot thickened Wednesday after news emerged that an Esquire writer sat in on the creative process behind the commercial. "In December," the writer wrote, "I asked Grey's chief creative officer, Tor Myrhen, whether 'Lindsay' was a reference to Lohan. 'Not at all. I don't think we even thought of it at the time,' he told me."
Legal experts are divided over the case. Celebrity lawyer Daniel Horowitz told DailyFinance the ad's use of the word "milkaholic" is "clearly meant to refer to Lindsay Lohan. And the only way E-Trade will get off the hook is if they claim it was some kind of parody."
But Lincoln Bandlow, a Los Angeles-based partner at law firm Lathrop & Gage, said Lohan faces a tough burden to show that the ad refers to her, and thus invades her privacy. "She's not Sinatra, she's not Cher, and she's not Bono," Bandlow said. He added that if Lohan is to prevail, "She's going to have to say that she's such a lush and an alcoholic that the use of the word 'milkaholic' obviously refers to her."