A French clothing company was ordered to pay Carla Bruni-Sarkozy ?40,000 ($58,000) in damages on Thursday over a shopping bag featuring a photo of the first lady in the nude.
The wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy filed suit this month against the fashion firm Pardon, based on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, arguing that the white canvas bag violated her image rights.
The court in Saint-Denis, capital of the French island, agreed that Pardon does not have, or even claim to have, Ms Carla Bruni s consent to use her image as part of a publicity campaign.
It banned all sales of the bag, which features a black-and-white picture of Bruni-Sarkozy taken from a famous 1993 photo of the model standing upright in the nude.
Pardon s boss Peter Mertes said after the hearing the damages were excessive . It s a heavy price to pay for a silly mistake, he complained.
He had told the court Monday that 10,000 bags, which were on sale in Reunion for three euros apiece, had already been pulled from the shelves and were destined to be burned.
Bruni-Sarkozy had been seeking ?125,000 in damages. The first lady intends to donate the proceeds to charity.
Her lawyer had argued that the photo in question was taken for an anti-AIDS campaign and that the first lady did not want this goal to be hijacked for commercial purposes.
The picture, taken by Swiss-born fashion photographer Michel Comte, fetched $91,000 at a New York auction in April.
The Pardon bags show the naked first lady with a talk bubble that reads: My boyfriend should have bought me Pardon.
The case came shortly after a Paris appeals court ordered that a Sarkozy voodoo doll be sold with a label describing it as offensive to the president, but refused to ban the novelty.
Sarkozy and his 40-year-old wife, a supermodel-turned-singer, in February won a lawsuit filed against Irish budget airline Ryanair for featuring a photo of the couple in an ad campaign.
Ryanair was ordered to pay Bruni ?60,000 in damages, well short of the ?500,000 that she was seeking for use of her image without her consent.
Sarkozy was awarded a symbolic sum of ?1, as he had requested. -AFP