Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, and the Right of Publicity

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Rumored to have known each other intimately in life, Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe have now symbolically met in death in the courtroom. A court has ruled that Einstein and his estate possess rights that other courts have held Marilyn Monroe and her estate do not. And Einstein can thank New Jersey for the difference.

The Central District of California recently ruled that right of publicity claims brought by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem against General Motors for the unauthorized use of Albert Einstein’s image in a magazine advertisement would survive a motion for summary judgment brought by GM. The district court concluded that Einstein had a postmortem right of publicity under New Jersey law, rejecting the very same arguments that had been made by the Estate of Marilyn Monroe in the process. Hebrew University of Jerusalem v. General Motors LLC, __ F. Supp. 2d__, 2012 WL 907497 (C.D. Cal. 2012).

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