March 4, 2009 / 11:51 PM / 11 years ago

De Niro, Pacino sue over watch ads for movie

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino sued a film distributor and watch company on Wednesday for Tutima watch advertisements tied to the 2008 film “Righteous Kill.”

Actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino (R) arrive for the premiere of the film "Righteous Kill" in New York September 10, 2008. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

Both actors said in the lawsuit that a series of advertisements falsely suggested the two actors endorsed Tutima watches. The suit that names De Niro and Pacino as plaintiffs seeks damages from Overture Films, based in Los Angeles, California, and Tutima Inc, a German watchmaker.

The series of promotions included one print advertisement which showed the actors faces and their names above a picture of a Tutima watch and a “Righteous Kill” video clip that appeared on Tutima’s website, the lawsuit said.

“De Niro’s and Pacino’s policies concerning commercial endorsements and tie-ins are common knowledge in the entertainment industry,” the lawsuit said. “Defendants’ actions have damaged De Niro’s and Pacino’s valuable reputations and diminished the commercial value of their name and images.”

Both men were very careful about product endorsement, the lawsuit said, with De Niro only endorsing a product or service “under very specific and compelling circumstances.”

“Pacino, over the course of his lengthy career, has never commercially endorsed any product or service in the United States,” the lawsuit said.

Overture and Tutima could not be immediately reached for comment.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, seeks monetary damages for breach of contract, violations of right of publicity and right of privacy laws in an amount to be determined at trial.

Both actors signed talent agreements in 2007 that prohibited using the actors for merchandising or product placements without prior written consent, the suit said.

In “Righteous Kill,” released in September, 2008, Pacino and De Niro played two veteran cops on the trail of a serial killer in a film that was panned by critics. It made more than $78 million worldwide, according to research company Box Office Mojo.

Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Eric Walsh

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