Online supermarket Picnic is certainly not yet planning to pay compensation to Max Verstappen, now that the Supreme Court has ruled that an advertisement with a lookalike of Max infringes the portrait right. “You should be able to joke, also with a ‘portrait’ of Max,” says director Michiel Muller.
The company has so far not responded to the Supreme Court’s decision a few weeks ago. After a long legal procedure, he finally ruled that using a lookalike of Max Verstappen does infringe the portrait right. In other words: a company that uses a Verstappen lookalike to advertise, uses the portrait of Verstappen. Even if he isn’t.
The case has dragged on for years. Picnic posted a video on Facebook in 2016 in which a lookalike of Max Verstappen performs. Driving in a Picnic van, the lookalike delivers groceries in a Verstappen racing outfit. The video appeared a day after supermarket chain Jumbo launched a television advertisement in which the real Max Verstappen delivers groceries in a Formula 1 car. Picnic’s Facebook video picked up on that with a big wink: ‘If you’re on time, you don’t have to race’.
It actually starts all over again
According to the real Verstappen and his team, his fame was abused. This led to years of legal battle through the courts and tribunals. In the end, the Supreme Court recently made the decision: a lookalike can also be a portrait, and in this case it is. The case is now back in court for possible damages.
‘You can also play a joke with a portrait’
Verstappen’s lawyer announced that he would again demand 350,000 euros from Picnic. But Picnic director Michiel Muller is not planning to pay yet. “It’s not quite there yet,” he says. “We congratulate Verstappen. It is of course great for Max that a lookalike can still produce a portrait. But whether that makes any difference to the outcome of our case is highly questionable. The court must now assess whether Verstappen has a reasonable interest in opposing a parodying film. It actually starts all over again.”
According to Muller, the Supreme Court has ‘only’ decided that a lookalike can also be a portrait. But that still doesn’t mean you can’t joke with it. ,,Picnic continues to believe that a joke should be possible. We were still very small in 2016, only active in three cities, they call it advertising, but it was just a joke on Facebook.”
They call it advertising, but it was just a joke on Facebook
Michiel Muller takes hope from the fact that the Advocate General also said in his advice to the Supreme Court that ‘poking fun’ at Verstappen does not mean that it would cost him exclusive sponsorship contracts. Jumbo simply extended the contract with Verstappen after the Picnic video.
Lex de Jager, Verstappen’s lawyer, calls it all ‘repeating’. “It is clear that Max’s portrait has been used illegally.” He will still consult with his client about the amount of the damage claim.
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