Right of Publicity

News & Analysis as of

Trademark Review | March 2015

Registration Cancelled Where Services Related to Mark Not Provided - Playdom, Inc. filed a petition to cancel Couture’s mark, arguing that the registration was void because Couture did not use the mark in commerce as of...more

Time for Your Close-up: The Right of Publicity in the Social Media Era

Michael Jordan is one of America’s most revered and iconic professional athletes. He spectacularly led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, was named league MVP for five years and, off the court, reached a...more

Michael Jordan Denied Summary Judgment on His Right of Publicity Claim against Illinois Grocer

In 2009, Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. To commemorate Jordan’s career, Time Inc. published a special Sports Illustrated Presents issue that included congratulatory “advertisements” from several...more

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words - and Maybe $150,000!: Helpful Hints and Guidelines on the Use of Internet Images

A bank manager decides to update the bank’s website. The IT manager assigned the project wants to include photographs and images to enhance the information on the website. The IT manager uses several photographs from the...more

Court Finds Misappropriation Claims Arising From Licensing of Copyrighted Photographs Are Preempted

Judge André Birotte Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has dismissed a lawsuit brought by former college athletes alleging that the licensing of copyrighted photographs from their NCAA...more

Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, Ltd. v. A.V.E.L.A., Inc. - USCA, Ninth Circuit, February 20, 2015

Following jury verdict on Lanham Act claim in favor of entity owned by Bob Marley’s children, Ninth Circuit affirms denial of defendants’ motion for judgment as matter of law, finding that trial evidence supported jury’s...more

Rhoads v. Margolis - Cal. App. 2d, January 26, 2015

In lawsuit brought by family of guitarist Randy Rhoads against writer and publisher of his biography, California appellate court affirms lower court denial of anti-SLAPP motion as it relates to family's breach of contract...more

Davis: Electronic Arts Gets a New Set of Downs and Still Can’t Score

Just over a month ago I wrote about the Davis v. Electronic Arts matter that was pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.  Specifically, I opined that the matter was ripe for Supreme Court review in light of the...more

USA: Ninth Circuit Rejects EA’s “Incidental Use” Defense in Madden-Related Right of Publicity Suit

On January 6, 2015, the Ninth Circuit decided that Electronic Arts Inc.’s (“EA”) unauthorized use of former NFL players’ likeness as avatars in the Madden NFL video game series does not qualify for First Amendment protection....more

Advertising Law - January 2015 #2

Safeway Must Pay Customers for Higher Online Prices - A California federal court judge has ruled in a breach of contract suit that Safeway is liable to customers who paid more for items online than in the store. ...more

Davis v. Electronic Arts: Another Right of Publicity Loss for Media Companies

On January 6, 2015, Electronic Arts, Inc. (“EA”), maker of Madden NFL video games, lost its appeal to dismiss claims by approximately 6,000 retired professional football players in Michael Davis, et. al v. Electronic Arts,...more

Does the Ebola-free Nurse Doll Raise a Right of Publicity Claim?

In general, a right of publicity is a right to control use of your name, likeness, and other aspects of your identity. Right of publicity laws normally give an individual the exclusive right to license the use of their...more

Sports, Media and Entertainment Intelligence - January 2015 (Global)

UK: World Anti-Doping Agency announce collaboration with Pfizer - On 3 December 2014, the World Anti-Doping Agency announced a global collaboration agreement with American pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer Inc, aimed at...more

USA: Do Athletes Have Rights of Publicity in Live Broadcast Footage? Minnesota Court Offers Guidance

U.S. courts have recognized that “there is no judicial consensus on how to resolve conflicts between intellectual-property rights and free-speech rights.” Indeed, courts have adopted varying approaches to analyzing right of...more

Henley Is Not Taking It Easy

According to music icon Don Henley, intellectual property rights are not a joking matter....more

Electronic Arts and its Disrespect for the Game

On September 11, 2014, the Ninth Circuit heard oral argument on the appeal in Davis v. Electronic Arts (Case No. 12-15737), a class action lawsuit brought by three former NFL Players against Electronic Arts (“EA”), the...more

Advertising Law - December 2014

SPECIAL FOCUS: Adding You to My Professional Network Emails May End Up Being Costly for LinkedIn as Publicity Rights Suit Moves Forward: A putative class action alleging that LinkedIn Corp. violated their right of...more

Goodfellas Actor Files Suit Over a Character from The Simpsons: The Limitations on Rights of Publicity Claims

On October 21, 2014, Frank Sivero, an actor who played Frankie Carbone in Goodfellas, filed a $250 million lawsuit against Fox and Abram Groening, the co-creator of The Simpsons, claiming that the wiseguy “Louie” character on...more

Arizona Court of Appeals Recognizes Right of Publicity While Protecting Free Speech in Precedent Setting Case

For the first time ever, an Arizona state court has recognized that individuals enjoy a right of publicity that protects them from the unauthorized use of their name or likeness for commercial or trade purposes. In its April...more

Litigation Alert: California Superior Court Finds Use of Likeness of Former Panamanian Dictator Manuel Noriega in Video Game...

Manuel Noriega v. Activision Blizzard, Inc., No. BC 551747 (Cal Super. Ct. filed October 27, 2014) - In recent years, federal and state courts have wrestled with how to assess right of publicity claims in the video...more

Advertising Law - October 2014 #4

Red Bull’s $13M False Ad Deal Crashes Site - Red Bull may claim to give you wings, but a false advertising settlement with the company apparently couldn’t stop its servers from crashing....more

NFL Films Ruling Blurs Right of Publicity

Earlier this year the Seventh Circuit stated that “there is no judicial consensus on how to resolve conflicts between intellectual-property rights and free-speech rights.” Jordan v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., 743 F.3d 509, 514...more

Gangster Or Not

As a huge fan of gangster movies, I was intrigued by a recently filed lawsuit in California. Although I am familiar with actor Frank Sivero’s work in “The Godfather: Part II” and in “Goodfellas”, I am not familiar with the...more

Dryer v. National Football League - USDC, D. Minn., October 10, 2014

Dryer v. National Football League - USDC, D. Minn., October 10, 2014: District court grants summary judgment in favor of NFL and against former professional football players who claimed that NFL’s use of video footage...more

California Court of Appeal Rules Models’ Right of Publicity Claims Assignable, Not Preempted by Copyright Act

The California Court of Appeal held earlier this month that certain right of publicity claims are freely assignable, and that the Copyright Act does not preempt a right of publicity claim where the defendant has no legal...more

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