Picnic doesn't have to pay Max Verstappen damages over parody ad, appeals court rules

Max Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix, 15 May 2016 (Photo: @redbullracing/Twitter)Max Verstappen wins Spanish Grand Prix, 15 May 2016 (Photo: @redbullracing/Twitter)

Online supermarket Picnic does not have to pay Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen damages for using a lookalike of him in a video posted on Facebook in 2016, the Amsterdam court of appeals ruled on Tuesday. There was no infringement of portrait right as the actor was clearly not Verstappen himself, and the video was a parody of an advertisement Verstappen did for Jumbo, the court ruled.

The appeal ruling overturns a previous ruling by the Amsterdam court in 2018. The court then ruled that Picnic infringed on Verstappen's portrait right and ordered the online supermarket to pay Verstappen 150 thousand euros in damages. Picnic appealed against the ruling. Verstappen did as well, saying the damages were too low.

The video in question is an alternate version of an advertisement in which Verstappen delivers Jumbo groceries. In the Picnic video, a Verstappen lookalike delivered Picnic groceries. The online supermarket argued that the video was meant as a joke - a fun way to put their delivery service in the spotlight and inspire their delivery workers. The video was also removed from social media when it became clear that Verstappen did not find it funny.

The appeals court ruled in Picnic's favor. "According to the court, it is clear to the viewer of the Picnic video that it is not Verstappen himself, but that it is a parody fo his performance in advertisements for Jumbo. The face of Verstappen himself is not depicted," according to the ruling. In this situation, Verstappen cannot claim violation of Article 21 of the Copyright Act.

And Picnic did not act unlawfully, the court ruled. "The video is not of such a nature that the honor and good name of Verstappen is affected or that his business interests are damaged by the video. So no compensation needs to be paid."