Tag Archives: Rights of Publicity

Two Rights of Publicity Decisions Explore the Boundaries of Commercial Speech in Commemorating Public Figures

Two recent rights of publicity cases illustrated the parameters of using a public figure’s name, likeness, identity or image for commercial purposes, without consent for commemorative purposes. But when does commemoration cross the line into unlawful use of one’s right of publicity? Jordan v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., No. 10-c-340 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 12, 2015) … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Enhances Protections for Celebrities (and Others) After Death

On June 13, 2014, the Massachusetts Senate passed S. 2022, beginning the process of joining 13 other states that prohibit companies from using celebrities' identities after they die. The bill amends Section 3A of Chapter 214 of Massachusetts General Laws, and creates a post-mortem "Right of Publicity" interest. The bill prohibits commercial use of the name, image, and likeness of a "personality" for 70 years after his or her death without written permission from either the personality or "persons who collectively own more than 50 per cent of the aspect of the personality's right of publicity that was commercially used . . . ." "Personality" is defined as "an individual whose identity has commercial value." To garner the bill's protection, however, the personality must be domiciled in Massachusetts as of the date of his or her death.… Continue Reading

Michael Jordan Wins Appeal in Trademark and Publicity Case

Back in 2009, Time magazine, the publisher of Sports Illustrated, ran a special commemorative Sports Illustrated issue devoted entirely to Michael Jordan's basketball career. Jewel Food Stores, Inc. ("Jewel"), the operator of supermarkets in the Chicago area, was offered free advertising in the issue in exchange for agreeing to sell the magazine in its stores. Jewel ended up running a full page ad in the issue congratulating Jordan on his induction into the Hall of Fame. The ad featured text recognizing Jordan's accomplishments and a pair of "23" sneakers, and prominently featured the Jewel logo and slogan in the middle of the ad.… Continue Reading

Jersey Shore Star Loses “Fitchuation” Lawsuit to Abercrombie & Fitch

Jersey Shore star, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, lost his lawsuit last week against Abercrombie & Fitch ("A&F") when a Florida federal judge ruled the case could not proceed to trial based on his trademark infringement, publicity rights, and false advertising claims related to a t-shirt the retail store sold labeled "The Fitchuation."… Continue Reading

Model Suing Lions Gate Over Opening Credits of Mad Men

The next time you watch Mad Men, you may find yourself paying a little closer attention to the opening credits. Last week, Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation was sued by a model from the 1950s and 1960s who is alleging the company violated her publicity and privacy rights by using a photograph from her in the show's opening credits without her permission.… Continue Reading

Case Update – Kim Kardashian Settles Her Look-Alike Lawsuit Against Old Navy

Just before the Labor Day weekend, Kim Kardashian ended her battle with Old Navy over the use of a look-alike. The settlement ends a year-long lawsuit (Kardashian v. The Gap Inc., et al., case number 2:11-cv-05960) in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that alleged violation of California’s right-of-publicity statute and … Continue Reading

California Post-Mortem Rights of Publicity for Soldiers and More

California legislature recently passed a California bill (ABA 585) that extends California’s post-mortem right of publicity to people who became famous because of their deaths. Effective January 2011, the bill amends section 3344.1 of the California Civil Code, which already provides a descendible post-mortem right of publicity to “personalities.” “Personalities” are currently defined as “any … Continue Reading

Christoff v. Nestlé USA, Inc. – A Lesson in California’s Single-Publication Rule

This post was written by Rachel Rubin and Adam Snukal. Is there an advertiser in California (or perhaps anywhere) who has an idea of what California’s single-publication rule even provides? Before answering that question, let’s define the rule itself. The single-publication rule generally provides that publishers and advertisers alike that use a person’s image, either in … Continue Reading
LexBlog