While they may have been using Silver Cross’ brand of stroller, they did not consent to use of their image in an advertising campaign. If patronizing a particular business was all it took for that business to have a right to advertise that personality’s preferences, then the licensing business, not to mention the law, would be very different indeed. Here’s a link to the story announcing the $5M suit.
In the latest celebrity rights acquisition, it was announced recently that investment firm Hilco Consumer Capital has acquired 50% of House of Marley, LLC, the entity founded by the family of Bob Marley, for an estimated $20 million. A press release reports that the new owners will “spend whatever it takes to stop infringements on this business” and estimate that once the market is clear, Bob Marley could represent a billion dollar brand. Hilco has also invested in the intellectual property assets of other businesses such as Sharper Image and Linens ‘n Things. One of the key elements in such an acquisition is the Right of Publicity. Bob Marley is an evergreen property with tremendous potential.
As unpleasant as this topic is, it raises some interesting right of publicity questions. I recently served as an expert in an effort involving OJ Simpson’s right of publicity in satisfaction of judgment to the Goldmans, and the subsequent effort to repackage OJ’s book by Harper Collins, “If I Did It.” In relation to the Caylee Anthony situation, Florida law is the most likely publicity statute to apply. The Florida statute would appear to give Caylee’s heirs a basis to stop commercial uses. But what if a parent was involved in some form of wrongdoing? (Note: this is general academic inquiry, not specific to the matter in Florida). Florida’s statute provides a decedent’s heirs can constitute a class composed of a spouse or children of the deceased. For a deceased child, normally I would expect the parents of the child would have standing to assert a publicity claim. But if need be, I have to assume a court would be able to construct an alternative basis for administration of the child’s right of publicity rather than putting it in the hands of someone who harmed the child.
There also are “Son of Sam” statutes in most states that prevent a criminal from profiting from his or her crime, such as selling life story rights or authoring a book based on the violent crime.