The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that the Guinness World Records holder for hacky sack kicks has no valid claims for false advertisement, false endorsement or right of publicity against Wendy’s International Inc., which distributed a hacky sack with a children’s meal and challenged children to break the plaintiff’s record. Martin v. Wendy’s Int’l Inc., No. 15-6998 (7th Cir., entered March 9, 2018). An Illinois district court previously dismissed the plaintiff’s suit for failure to state a claim.

“No reasonable consumer would think [the plaintiff] endorsed the footbags,” the appellate court held, because “Guinness World Records” was printed on both the toy and its packaging and the instructional card identified the plaintiff as the holder of the record rather than an endorser. The court also found that “no reasonable consumer would believe that free toys accompanying kids’ meals to encourage intra-family play were the same types of items used to set world records.” Finally, the court held that the exception for truthful identification of a performer in the Illinois Right of Publicity Act barred the plaintiff’s identity-based claim.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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