‘Wheel of Fortune’: Vanna White Once Sued This Tech Company and Won

by Halle Ames

We get it. Technology is hitting a little too close to home these days, and maybe that is why Vanna White sued this tech company.

In 1988, Wheel of Fortune co-host and letter turner Vanna White was granted permission by the Supreme Court to sue a VCR company.

The company was in hot water over a commercial that showed life in the future. In this futuristic utopia, robots did everything for us, like they do at the beginning of every movie gone wrong.

One robot was even a blonde woman…seen working a game show… turning letters… in a beautiful ball gown and jewelry.

See where I’m going with this.

The company in question, Samsung Electronics America, tried to counter back to the courts, saying it has a First Amendment right to use White’s image in its advertisements.

The Supreme Court did not agree.

Throughout the late 1980s, Samsung Electronics America ran an ad campaign that showed their products being used in the 21st century.

Isn’t that a joke?? Here we are in 2021, with no robot Vanna White. I’m also sure all their products are collecting dust in a storage box.

Vanna White vs. Samsung

Vanna White wasn’t flattered by the recreation and sued both Samsung and David Deutsch Associates. Her lawyers said both companies had their hand in creating the ad.

According to the Associated Press, “White said Samsung and Deutsch used her likeness without her permission. They also violated her right to publicity under California law and created confusion over whether she was endorsing their product.”

While a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit over the inability to pinpoint who the company was referring to, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals felt differently. They “reinstated the right to the publicity claim and the federal claim regarding a possible endorsement.”

The Court of Appeals sided with Vanna White and said Samsung’s did not deserve more protection because they were using her image as a parody.

″Unless the First Amendment bars all right of publicity actions – and it does not – … then it does not bar this case,″ said the Circuit court.

In addition, the ruling explained that “The United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit upheld the original ruling of the lower court. Stating that simply using the likeness of White was not intellectual theft. The court further stated that the consumer would in no way believe the robot to be Vanna White. Nor that she would endorse the Samsung product. The robot, performing the same job act as White, is doing just that, performing an act. White appealed to the U.S Supreme Court, where she was awarded more than $400,000 in damages.”