Right of Publicity

News & Analysis as of

Intellectual Property Bulletin - Fall 2016

Mean Girls v. The Right of Publicity: Lessons Learned From the Lohan and Gravano Lawsuits - On September 1, 2016, a New York appellate court ended two closely watched right of publicity lawsuits brought by Lindsay...more

You Just Used My Picture Without Permission?

Artist Richard Prince’s exhibit entitled “New Portraits’’ was displayed at New York City’s Gagosian Gallery and Frieze New York during the summer of 2015. This exhibit featured screenshots of other people’s Instagram photos....more

Some Like It Infringed? Monroe Estate Continues Intellectual Property Battles Despite Lack of Publicity Rights

On Wednesday, November 9, 2016 the estate of Marilyn Monroe filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York against Fashion Central. The Monroe Estate claims that Fashion Central infringes its intellectual property...more

Using Pop Culture References in Advertisements? Just Do It Right

In this age of smartphone cameras and hashtags, an impromptu remark or a right place-at-the-right-time snapshot can “go viral” and create instant and immense goodwill. Businesses today use social media as a tool to promote...more

Attorneys Cannot Sue Avvo for Unauthorized Profiles According to Illinois Federal Court

An Illinois federal judge dismissed a proposed class action of lawyers whose business information was published by the online attorney database Avvo without their permission. The lead plaintiff, a Chicago-based personal...more

Legal Concerns for Social Media Influencers: Intellectual Property

Social media “influencers” – individuals who are powerful, popular and relevant enough to influence others within their online social sphere – generate ad dollars, product endorsement opportunities and other revenue streams...more

Rams v. Def Jam Recordings Inc. - USDC, S.D. New York, August 16, 2016

In action brought by photographer and subject alleging unauthorized use of photo on recording artist Jeremih’s album cover, district court denies motion to dismiss contributory and vicarious copyright infringement claims,...more

Student Athletes Fight to Keep Fantasy Sports-Related Right of Publicity Claims Alive

Last week, the plaintiff collegiate athletes in a putative class action lawsuit pending in the Southern District Court of Indiana filed their opposition to FanDuel and DraftKings’ respective motions to dismiss. The...more

Eggleston v. Daniels - USDC, E.D. Michigan, August 16, 2016

District court refused to dismiss infringement claims alleging creators of TV show “Empire” copied Cookie Lyon character from plaintiff’s memoir, concluding, among other things, that stories with female, African-American...more

Augmented Reality

If you haven’t heard about newest gaming craze yet, it’s based on what is called “augmented reality” (AR) and it could potentially impinge on your home life and workplace as such games allow users to “photograph” imaginary...more

Twitter Sued For Right of Publicity Violations Over Profile-Trading Game

A class action lawsuit was filed in California yesterday against Hey, Inc. and Twitter regarding Hey’s online trading game in which players collect profiles of (and use virtual currency to invest in) real-life people as if...more

Just Play the Game: Sixth Circuit Says Student-Athletes Have No Right of Publicity in Game Broadcasts

In a short, sharp opinion filed August 17, 2016, a three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of a class action lawsuit brought by ten former college athletes asserting they were entitled to...more

Faulkner v. Hasbro Inc. - USDC, D. New Jersey, July 21, 2016

District court denies toy company’s motion to dismiss right of publicity claim brought by Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner, holding that fact that hamster doll in defendant’s Littlest Pet Shop toy line bore plaintiff’s...more

Advertising Law - July 2016 #2

VW Will Pay $14.7B in Largest FTC False Ad Suit - Volkswagen made a $14.7 billion deal with the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and the California Attorney General over charges that the auto...more

Julia Child Foundation Sues Airbnb for Using Her Name Without Permission

The charitable foundation representing the estate of famed chef, culinary author and TV personality Julia Child, has sued Airbnb because the company used Child’s name and likeness for a Memorial Day promotion without the...more

Airbnb Faces Suit for Using Julia Child’s Name in a Contest

Earlier this year, Airbnb ran a contest in which one winner could “come stay in the former home of Julia Child.” The company advertised that entrants could imagine themselves “walking the halls of Julia Child’s former home,”...more

Three Point Shot - June 2016

Showtime and Top Rank Slug It out over "Fight of the Century" - Who said boxing was dead? Fight fans still bitter over the May 2015 Floyd Mayweather–Manny Pacquiao bout that was far more mega-bore than mega-brawl...more

Till Death Do Us Part? How to Deal With Celebrity Publicity Rights When That Celebrity Passes

The tragic death of renowned recording artist Prince left many reminiscing about his meticulously crafted public image. In life, the law allowed Prince to control the commercial exploitations of his image.  At death, however,...more

‘The Autumn Wind’ and the Right of Publicity

As a child of the 60’s and 70’s and an insatiable NFL football fan, I can still hear the swaggering voice of narrator John Facenda in the now-iconic 1974 NFL Films production “The Autumn Wind,” which has been dubbed The...more

Hulk Hogan’s Legal Leg Drop Sets Precedent for Celebrity Journalism

Famed wrestler Hulk Hogan’s $140 million trial verdict against Gawker Media for publishing a tape of him having relations with his best friend’s wife and using racially offensive language, sends a clear message that despite...more

PRINCE Act Shelved by Minnesota Legislator

Last week we reported on the right of publicity bill being considered by the Minnesota legislature in light of the passing of musical icon, Prince. As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune on May 18, 2016, State...more

Sign O’ the Times: the Right of Publicity Comes to Minnesota

The ability to control the use of one’s name, likeness, voice, and other personal attributes is known as the right of publicity. Unlike trademarks, patents, and copyrights, which are types of intellectual property governed...more

The Ink Isn’t Dry

What rights based in copyright law does a tattoo artist have in a tattoo itself, and to what extent can an artist use those rights to restrict the rights of others, including the people whose skin has been inked?...more

The Right of Publicity: How Much Control Do NFL Players Have Over Their Names?

How much control should athletes have over their names? Not an unlimited amount, according to one recent court ruling. Late last month, in Dryer v. National Football League, the Eighth Circuit denied an appeal by three...more

Advertising Law - April 2016 #3

SPECIAL FOCUS: #Twitter at Ten: Ten Times Twitter Made Ad Law History - Ten years ago the world was introduced to Twitter, a microblogging site offering users the chance to express themselves just 140 characters at a...more

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