Hilton v. Hallmark 580 F.3d 874 (9th Cir. 2009)
Hallmark produced a card depicting a photograph of Paris Hilton’s head on a cartoon figure and using Hilton’s catchphrase “That’s Hot.” Hilton sued Hallmark under several causes of action including California’s right to publicity law. Hallmark moved to strike on Anti-SLAPP grounds. The district court denied the motion and Hallmark appealled. The Court of Appeals upheld the district court decision.
To prevail on it’s motion to stike, Hallmark needed to first show that Hilton’s lawsuit involved the right to freedom of speech and it concerned a matter of public interest. The court agreed that it did (noting that Hallmark’s speech was not commercial and that the speech was based on Hilton’s public persona).
However, this was only a threshhold issue. Anti-SLAPP motions can only dismiss claims where the plaintiff cannot state and substantiate a legally sufficient claim. Therefore, if Hilton’s claims have even minimal merit, the motion to strike should be denied. Because Hallmark could not show as a matter of law that it would win the suit, the district court denial of the motion to strike was upheld.