Woody Allen has settled a lawsuit against American Apparel for $5 Million. The suit was over two unlicensed, unauthorized billboards for American Apparel in New York and Los Angeles, in May of 2007. The billboards depicted Woody Allen as an Orthodox Jew in a still photo taken from his movie Annie Hall, along with Yiddish text declaring Allen “the High Rabbi.” This website, http://www.RightOfPublicity.com, is referenced in Business Week’s ( http://www.BusinessWeek.com ) coverage of the suit. Another interesting aspect of this situation is that the settlement is being reported and publicized. In the realm of Right of Publicity litigation, it is often very difficult to ascertain the monetary aspects of a dispute unless you are directly involved. In all likelihood, Allen had an expert witness working for him to substantiate the valuation which could have become the basis for the settlement.
TLL Daily Advisor has reported that a website is selling women’s thongs called “Teebows,” which are orange and blue in color. While this may sound innocuous enough on its face, notwithstanding the unlikely color choice for women’s underwear, what happens when you consider this product from the standpoint of college football star Tim Tebow? And what happens when you consider that he plays for the Florida Gators, whose team colors are orange and blue? Well, reportedly, the website closed the loop on any question of identifiability by also including an image of Tebow and the Gators logo on the website. I submit that even without the image of Tebow or the Gators logo, Tebow was unequivocally identifiable from the context of the use. The next interesting question concerns the restrictions that college athletes are under to not license or endorse products. The policy behind this rule, at least in part, is to preserve the amateur status of collegiate athletics. But when an infringement like Teebow thongs comes along, does Tebow have the right to sue and recover monetary damages based on his various intellectual property rights, including his right of publicity? I submit he does. The link to the TLL Daily Advisor site is here, but I believe access to content requires a free email subscription: