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Former Bears player Brian Urlacher files lawsuit against Florida hair clinic

February 7, 2017 No Comments »
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If the report on this link is accurate, that a Florida hair clinic used Brian Urlacher without permission to promote their services, this sounds like a clean-cut case of Right of Publicity infringement.  Urlacher reportedly had an endorsement deal with a Florida clinic whose services Urlacher did in fact use, which will likely enhance his position in the damages portion of the lawsuit.  Here’s a link with a bit more information:  Brian Urlacher sues Florida hair clinic


Super Bowl LI, Tina Fey and John Malkovich ads, and the Right of Publicity

February 6, 2017 No Comments »
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When it comes to the Super Bowl, even the advertisements are watched with great anticipation and Super Bowl LI was no exception.  When your company is involved in licensing some of the advertisements in question, as Luminary Group was in the “Super Bowl Babies” spot, it tends to make one watch even more closely.  As a Right of Publicity specialist, I was especially intrigued by not one but two Super Bowl LI advertisements with strong Right of Publicity overtones.

The first spot with Right of Publicity implications was the talking yearbook Honda advertisement featuring Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Robert Redford, Amy Adams, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jimmy Kimmel, Missy Elliott, Viola Davis, and Stan Lee.  By showing an entire page of the yearbook photos of the not-yet-famous celebrities next to their classmates, approximately 60 other people appearing next to the talking yearbook images were identifiable.  I have no inside information about the making of the advertisement, so I will assume the spot was carefully vetted.  Maybe those other people were tracked down and permission was secured.  Maybe they used stock photography or models with hypothetical names and simply paid a minimal fee to recreate the yearbook pages instead of using the authentic pages.  In the Steve Carell segment, the person next to Carell even gets a speaking spot to which Carrell responds “that was a rhetorical question, Darryl!”  If nothing else, the Honda talking yearbook ad presents an interesting scenario for Right of Publicity analysis.

Here’s a link to the Honda advertisement:    Honda talking yearbook ad featuring Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Robert Redford, Magic Johnson, Missy Elliott, Viola Davis, Jimmy Kimmel, Stan Lee and Amy Adams

The second spot with Right of Publicity implications was the John Malkovich domain name advertisement for Squarespace.  In the advertisement, Malkovich is talking on his smartphone to a person who owns the domain name JohnMalkovich.com.  Malkovich says he needs the domain name because he is starting a men’s fashion line, but the person Malkovich is talking to is also named “John Malkovich.”  This prompts John Malkovich to say “yeah, you think when people contact JohnMalkovich.com they are actually looking for you?  Or maybe, maybe they’re looking for ME!”  Domain name analysis pertaining to famous individuals often depends on the nature of the use being made of the domain name.  If a person shares a name with a famous person of the same moniker, but is simply using that domain name in relation to the non-famous owner’s career, interests or life, for example, there may not be much the famous John Malkovich can do about it.  On the other hand, as so often is the case, if the content on the domain name is being used in a way that threads in the famous John Malkovich, then there could be an actionable domain name dispute.  The message of the John Malkovich ad is to register the domain name you want before someone else does.  That’s good advice, though it isn’t always the final word in instances where cybersquatting is taking place.

Here’s a link to the Squarespace advertisement:  Squarespace JohnMalkovich domain name ad


Sounds like a Right of Publicity valuation expert is needed in Michael Jackson IRS dispute

February 2, 2017 No Comments »
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Interesting Bloomberg article dated 2/1/17 covering the dispute over the valuation of Michael Jackson’s estate.  “The IRS claims Jackson’s should have been valued at $434 million. The estate claims that it was worth a mere $2,105.”  Sounds like a case for a Right of Publicity valuation expert.  Here’s a link to the Bloomberg article:   Bloomberg: Michael Jackson estate valuation


Article on Canadian Right of Personality

December 8, 2016 No Comments »
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The following link leads to a useful article on Canadian personality rights (equivalent to the Right of Publicity in the U.S.):  http://www.americanbar.org/publications/landslide/2016-17/november-december/protecting_professional_athletes_personality_rights_canada.html


Highest Paid Deceased Celebrities for 2016

October 13, 2016 No Comments »
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Forbes has just released the annual “Top-Earning Dead Celebrities” for 2016.  The most notable aspects of this year’s list are the new entries of recently departed personalities, and the amount of the number one earner.  Here is a link to Forbes’ coverage:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2016/10/12/the-highest-paid-dead-celebrities-of-2016/#5a1f53dd8d2e

Arnold Palmer (#3), Prince (#5) and David Bowie (#11) are the unfortunate new members on the list due to their recent respective deaths in 2016.  In Palmer’s case, he had already created a vast business empire so the revenue sources that put him on this particular list were already in place.  For Prince, who perhaps is the most surprising entrant on this list due to the especially shocking news of his death, the earnings are due to the surge in music sales that often follow the death of a notable artist.  The same could be said of Bowie, but Bowie’s numbers also benefited from the release of a new album that closely coincided with his passing.

The other notable surprise in this year’s list is the amount assigned to the number one entrant, Michael Jackson, at $825 Million.  Compare that figure to the number two spot, Charles Schulz, at $48 Million.  It is worth noting that Jackson, since his death, has almost always taken the top spot, and while never quite at the $825 Million mark, the drop off from first place to second has often been very steep.

 


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