Image rights: ‘Crocodile Dundee’ actor claims against Australian burger chain

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

Sport is now firmly an important part of the world-wide entertainment industry with sports ‘stars’ enjoying the same notoriety as ‘Hollywood’ ‘stars’ and with similar mega earnings to boot!

Take wrestling, for example, when the governing body had to change its name some years ago from ‘Worldwide Wrestling Federation’ (WWF) to avoid confusion with the ‘World Wide Fund for Nature’ (WWF), it chose to be known in future as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

Thus, a recent case in Australia involving the ‘Crocodile Dundee’ actor, Paul Hogan, against a burger chain is of wider significance and application to well-known sports personalities and their legal and marketing advisers.

Hogan brought a claim in the Australia Federal Court in December 2017 against the Australian burger chain, ‘Grill’d’, for the unlawful use of one of the most famous lines of the ‘Crocodile Dundee’ actor.

Hogan claimed that ‘Grill’d’ had use a variation of the line “That’s not a knife ….. that’s a knife” from the 1986 ‘Crocodile Dundee’ film on the paper sleeves covering their knives.

The basis of his legal claim was that the use by ‘Grill’d’ of that line was “misleading or deceptive conduct’ by associating themselves with the Hogan brand without his consent.

On 8 February 2018, Hogan’s lawyer announced that ‘Grill’d’ had settled the claim out of court and had agreed to pay 20,000 Australian Dollars (£11,236) to his client and a charity.

It is interesting to note that Hogan has successfully brought legal claims in ‘Passing Off’ over the years to protect the valuable goodwill that he enjoys in his name and image as ‘Crocodile Dundee’. See, for example, the Australian Federal Court case of Hogan and Anor v Koala Dundee Pty Ltd and Ors, 1988, 83 ALR 187, in which the law in this field is extensively reviewed.

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’