Christoff v. Nestle USA, Inc.


In 1986, Christoff posed for a photograph to be used on a label for bricks of coffee in Canada. Sixteen years later, he saw his face on a jar of Taster’s Choice instant coffee in the United States. This label had been in use for six years. Christoff filed suit for the appropriation of his likeness. Nestle moved for summary judgment based on the statute of limitations. The trial court applied a two-year statute of limitations from his initial discovery on the grounds the single publication rule does not apply to claims for appropriation of likeness. The jury awarded him 15 million dollars in damages. The appellate court reversed on the grounds the single publication rule applied and Christoff had not filed his lawsuit within two years after Nestle first published the label. Christoff appealed to the Supreme Court.


Reversed and Remanded. The single-publication rule is intended to prevent a single integrated publication from resulting in numerous causes of action. This rule does apply to claims for the misappropriation of a person’s likeness. However, since the parties did not have an opportunity to present evidence to establish whether the production of the coffee label with Christoff’s likeness was a single integrated publication or republished, the case is remanded.