Diana's Estate Fails To Get Trial

Tuesday, June 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Another bid by the heirs of Princess Diana to prevent the Franklin Mint from selling products with Diana's likeness on them was rejected by a federal judge.

The judge ruled Monday that the use of Diana's name or image on the mint's products and advertisements does not imply endorsement by her estate or its charitable fund.

U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper also rejected the estate's call for a jury trial on issues of unfair competition, false advertising and trademark dilution.

An attorney for the mint argued that Diana abandoned claims of infringement on use of her likeness when she did not challenge hundreds of products bearing her name or likeness in the 16 years before she died in a 1997 car crash.

The summary judgment Monday was the second court decision in six months favoring the mint in the case brought by the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. In December, a federal appeals court affirmed that the Franklin Mint could continue selling products with Diana's likeness and the name ``Diana, Princess of Wales.''

Diana-related products sold at the mint include jewelry, plates, sculptures and dolls. The mint has sold about 300,000 of them since she died, ranging in price from $29.95 to $595.

An attorney representing the estate said no decision had been made on whether to appeal Monday's decision.

In its claim of false advertising, the estate had cited one ad, for a Franklin Mint commemorative plate that stated that proceeds would go to a charity Diana supported. The judge noted Monday that the Franklin Mint had donated $1.5 million to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, one of Diana's favorite charities.

The estate's memorial fund has taken in about $160 million, much of it from licenses with companies making Diana-themed products. According to court documents, 19 U.S. companies have received licenses from the estate for products including commemorative coins, stamps, a funeral video, scarves, candles, photographs and calendars.