International singing star Rihanna (Robyn Rihanna Fenty to the court) won a lawsuit in July in England against the Top Shop stores over the manufacture and sale of an unauthorized T-Shirt bearing her image. Merchandise (such as T-shirts, jackets, buttons) is a very big business; so the respective rights of celebrities and merchants are important. I frequently work on licenses and litigation in this area and know firsthand how valuable these rights are – and how seriously infringements are taken.
In the United States, celebrities routinely win such cases because the US recognizes a celebrity’s “right of publicity” — that’s the right to control most commercial exploitations of a celebrity’s name, likeness, and biographical details.
Continue reading The T- Shirt Found No Love – Rihanna Wins in Court
Celebrity is a currency of great value. TMZ, Entertainment Weekly, E!, and innumerable gossip websites and publications prove the point beyond dispute. A group of Olympians including Mark Spitz, Greg Louganis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Amanda Beard have sued Samsung Corporation for using their image to endorse the company without their consent. So, it’s not uncommon that commercial advertisers want to push the edge of the envelope and find ways of using the names, likenesses, and other indicia of celebrities (without obtaining their permission and without paying them) in order to get the attention of us, the consumers.
Continue reading Olympians Strike Back: What’s News — and What’s Advertising — in the Age of Infotainment and Celebrity?