— -- Sofia Vergara is one of Hollywood’s most powerful women. But now the actress is taking steps to protect her image with a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against Venus Concept and a number of its alleged affiliates that she claims have been cashing in on her likeness to promote their beauty products without her permission or endorsement.
According to the suit, it began in 2014 with a selfie Vergara posted to her WhoSay account about her Venus Legacy massage, a treatment which she claims in the lawsuit she “ultimately did not like, finding that it was a waste of time and money with little in the way of any results - she would not use it again, and certainly would not endorse it nor agree to appear in an international advertisement campaign to promote it.”
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But the photo made its way into an “Extra” television segment and Vergara alleges that photos of her appearing to endorse the treatment appeared on Venus’ Facebook page, the Lavoro Laser website and the Twitter page of Beauty Fix Medspa.
“A tweet or a picture of a celebrity with your brand is a PR person’s dream, but it’s an intellectual property nightmare,” attorney and legal analyst Areva Martin told ABC News.
Had Vergara agreed to the promotion, she argues it would have cost the company a lot of money. The lawsuit said Vergara earns around $15 million for an endorsement and even then retains strict approval on the use of her likeness.
Her lawsuit accuses the companies of diminishing her brand and profiting through “improper and inappropriate use of her image.”
ABC News contacted the companies named as defendants in the lawsuit. Venus Concepts told ABC News it will “vigorously defend” itself.
“Our company has not yet been served with the lawsuit involving Venus Legacy, however, we are surprised by its filing and intend to vigorously defend our company in this matter. Thousands of satisfied patients and customers are using Venus technologies every day in over 50 countries worldwide. Our award-winning technology strives to make a profound impact in the aesthetic communities we serve around the world. We are committed to delivering an elevated customer experience. We look forward to resolving this matter expeditiously,” the company statement reads.
Vergara’s lawyers insist legal action could have been prevented, saying they asked the companies to stop the ads on multiple occasions but they never did.