Arnold Schwarzenegger is coming for Russian robotics company Promobot after it used his likeness to promote its lifelike Android Robo-C. The Terminator actor is suing the company for upwards of $10 million for using his looks — and repeatedly exhibiting the robot modeled after him — without permission, according to TMZ. Honestly, we’re only surprised it took this long.
It was sketchy from the start — Promobot debuted its creepy Arnold bot at CES 2020, where it generated a ton of media buzz. And for good reason; the bot was a standout at a show where so many things look and act the same. The company is notoriously shady, though, and known to stage over-the-top publicity stunts to draw attention to its services, so, as we noted in our coverage at the time, anything it claims must be taken with a grain of salt.
With that in mind, when Input interviewed co-founder Oleg Kivokurtsev at CES, we asked if the company had permission from Schwarzenegger to use his image in this way. The response was an enthusiastic 'yes.' "Actually, we have official acceptance from Arnold," Kivokurtsev told Input.
It wasn’t just the bot that had Arnold’s likeness, either — the actor’s mug was plastered across its brochures and media kits. The bot also mimicked his voice.
The actor is strict about his face — Schwarzenegger doesn’t just hand over the rights to his image to anyone who asks. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Per TMZ, he believes using his likeness in ads “diminishes his hard-earned and well-deserved reputation as a major motion picture star.”
The actor-politician’s team hit Promobot with a cease-and-desist after CES and was reportedly assured the company would stop touring its Arnold bot. That didn’t happen, though. Promobot showed off the lifelike replica again the following month at the New York Toy Fair. And, to top it all off, this all comes after Promobot was personally shut down by Schwarzenegger in St. Petersburg in 2019. According to TMZ, the company attended a speech he was delivering and asked the actor to pose for a photo with the robot. He flat-out declined.
At this point, you get what’s coming — While Promobot’s stunts are generally pretty harmless, this game is getting old. Using someone’s face without their permission is not ok — and, continuing to use it after they’ve told you to stop is really not ok. It’s no wonder the actor is suing for misappropriation of his right of publicity.
Maybe a $10 million lawsuit will be enough to make Promobot finally start playing by the rules. This is the same company, though, that back in January claimed it created a robot to run quick tests for coronavirus symptoms and posted up to do so in Times Square. So, who knows. I’m sure that was entirely legit, and not at all capitalizing on the public’s fears of a pandemic...