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Buzz Aldrin's lawsuit against trading-card company tossed

November 7, 2011 | 12:57 pm

Buzz aldrin
Buzz Aldrin may have stepped foot on the moon, but he wasn’t able to walk over trading-card company Topps Inc. in court.

Aldrin accused Topps in a lawsuit filed last year of improperly using his image in a series of historic trading cards.

U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson ruled that Topps’ use of photographs from the Apollo 11 mission was protected as “free speech of an issue of public interest.” He dismissed the lawsuit Sept. 27.

Aldrin has appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

At the center of the disagreement is a series of trading cards Topps issued in 2009 called, Topps American Heritage. The set of cards includes hundreds of images of well-known American politicians, actors, athletes and events, including a photograph of Aldrin during the historic mission.

Aldrin argued that Topps’ use of his image was “unprotected commercial speech,” for which he was entitled toc compensation.

"We believe that the federal trial court's ruling could effectively end California's well-established and statutory right of publicity law as it affects the use of celebrity images on trinkets such as plates, pencils, trading cards and the like," Aldrin's attorney, Robert C. O'Brien, said. "Accordingly, Dr. Aldrin has appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit. He is hopeful for a positive result from the appeals court."

Topps was represented by the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, which also represents The Times.


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-- Stuart Pfeifer

Photo: The cover of Buzz Aldrin's book, "Reaching for the Moon." Credit: HarperCollins Children's Books