News & Analysis as of


Seasick Trademarks Walking the Plank? Don’t Let Yeezy Make You Queasy

by Knobbe Martens on

Successful brands from the United States, and particularly those branded by U.S. celebrities, are often received with similar enthusiasm in other parts of the world. Recently, YEEZY shoes designed by Kanye West made their...more

Dark Day For Hollywood – Law Prohibiting Online Publication Of Actors’ Ages Is Unconstitutional!

A federal court has struck down as unconstitutional a California law (AB 1687) that prohibits commercial online services from publishing actors’ ages without their consent. The law, which the California legislature enacted in...more

“Brother Thelonious” Monk’s Likeness Protectable Decades After Death

Earlier this month, a California federal judge kept alive a suit brought by the estate of famous jazz musician Thelonious Monk against North Coast Brewing Co. for trademark infringement and infringement of the right of...more

Question Mark Leaves Court Questioning Defamation Claim

Demonstrating the power of punctuation, actor James Woods dodged a Twitter defamation suit after a federal court judge found that his use of a question mark meant his tweet was not a false statement of fact and merely invited...more

What’s In a Name?

by Burns & Levinson LLP on

Question: What do Sean Combs, J.K. Rowling, LeBron James, Lionel Messi, and Mark Wahlberg have in common? Two things, actually. First, they are all listed on the Forbes 2017 Celebrity 100 List; second, they all have gone to...more

Hands Off Jay-Z’s Hand Gesture Trademark

Words and pictures are so 2017. This year, it is all about the non-traditional trademarks (i.e., something other than brand names and images). In the past, we’ve covered a variety of these types of trademarks, from colors to...more

Celebrity Trademark Updates: Sean Connery and Meryl Streep

With the Oscars coming up in less than a month, it seems like the issue of “celebrity” trademarks is a hot topic in the media. For example, many news outlets (such as here, here, here) are covering Meryl Streep’s application...more

The Elvis Presley Estate Loses Bid to Block ELVIS JUICE Beer

Trademark disputes involving breweries are nothing new, with breweries battling each other, wineries, and even cities over trademarks. We can now add estates of dead celebrities to the mix, as the Estate of Elvis Presley...more

Celebrities, personality rights and privacy: what marketers need to know about permission

by Smart & Biggar on

William Shatner made headlines in November when he took to Twitter to express his displeasure that his name and likeness were used without his permission to promote a condo development in Hamilton, Ontario. The development in...more

The Internet Stole My Face: New Advances in Technology Could Make Everyone a Digital Video Puppet

“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.” Edgar Alan Poe wrote those words over a century ago, yet if he were alive today he may opt for the darker: “Believe nothing you hear and nothing you see.” Over the...more

Open Questions on Media Company Liability for Statements Made by Talent

by Akin Gump - Excubitor on

A recent case has raised questions about whether or not a media company can be held liable for defamatory statements made by its talent on social media. The case arose after a falling out between two television stars, Mykel...more

Can’t Say “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” for Copying Me

by Knobbe Martens on

On June 1, 2017, noted music and fashion photographer Danny Clinch filed suit in the Southern District of New York in connection with the use of two photographs of famed rapper Tupac Shukar (“Tupac”) on t-shirts. The...more

Orchestrating Bias: Arbitrator’s Undisclosed Membership in Philharmonic Group with Pauly Shore’s Attorney Not Grounds to Reverse...

by Snell & Wilmer on

The California court of appeal recently issued an unpublished decision in Knispel v. Shore, 2017 WL 2492535, affirming a judgment confirming an arbitration award in a real estate dispute involving Pauly Shore. The court of...more

P. Diddy on Instagram – No Free Pass on Copyright Law

by Dorsey & Whitney LLP on

As Biggie said “Mo Money Mo Problems” – Last month, a New York-based photojournalist filed suit again Diddy’s record label, Bad Boy Records, for posting a photo of none other than P. Diddy himself on his own Instagram...more

The Artist Formerly Known As…Warhol

by Dorsey & Whitney LLP on

Lynn Goldsmith is a professional photographer who rose to fame in the 1970’s for her portrait photography, especially for her work with musicians and other entertainers. Her work has appeared on over 100 album covers....more

Cleveland Brewery’s Use of His Likeness Not Very Well Liked by Lebron James

by Miles & Stockbridge P.C. on

Yesterday, it was reported by the Bleacher Report that Cleveland Cavaliers basketball star, Lebron James, was displeased with the fact that a brewer located in the Cleveland, Ohio area, Great Lakes Brewing Company may have...more

Looking For A Deceased Celebrity’s Successor-In-Interest? The Secretary Of State Has An Answer

by Allen Matkins on

The California Secretary of State’s office is the repository for a vast a disparate number of filings. Few people, for example, may be aware that they may register with the Secretary of State’s office as a...more

Is Marilyn Monroe Too Generic to Be Registered as a Trademark?

by Weintraub Tobin on

I’ve written on numerous occasions in the past about celebrities who registered their own names as trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Just the other week, I wrote about how UFC superstar Conor...more

Just Like You and Me: Difficulties with Celebrity Trademark Applications

by Knobbe Martens on

Under U.S. trademark law, any person (including a celebrity) can obtain a trademark registration for their name if they can establish that the public recognizes the name as a source identifier for certain products or...more

Bieber, Beer, and… Protective Orders

by Butler Snow LLP on

On February 8, 2017, pop star Justin Bieber was scheduled to be deposed in Santa Monica, California. Lawyers traveled from Nashville to California for the deposition, but upon arrival they were informed Bieber was too ill to...more

Top Four Estate Disputes from 2016

by LeClairRyan on

With the end of 2016 upon us, now is a fitting time to look back at some of the top estate disputes from this past year. 2016 was a typical year in that, unsurprisingly, people continued to die and families continued to fight...more

Donald Trump is on to Something

by Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A. on

Some credit Donald Trump’s win to his savvy social media presence, including tweeting. He reached millions of voters and caught the nation’s attention with his tweets. The courts are now recognizing this phenomenon....more

Celebrity Brands: The Line Between Fair Use and Infringement

by Jaburg Wilk on

All brand owners are faced with difficult decisions regarding how aggressively to police their brands. The decision is particularly difficult when the unauthorized use is by a loyal customer or fan. While some traditional...more

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

by Knobbe Martens on

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

EU Retail News – November 2016

by Bryan Cave on

Celebrity Influence - The potential UK retail decline following Brexit - The recent announcement of Robert De Niro’s planned luxury boutique hotel in Covent Garden has turned fresh attention to the continuing trend of...more

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