Albert Einstein’s heir is “outraged” that she doesn’t receive part of Albert Einstein licensing income
Evelyn Einstein, the 69 year old granddaughter of the famed physicist Albert Einstein, says she is “outraged” that she doesn’t get paid a part of the income derivived from the licensing of Einstein’s name, image and likeness. That Einstein yields substantial revenues is no secret–he is a perennial entry on Forbes’ annual Top-Earning Deceased Celebrities list–but the legal basis for Evelyn’s claim to entitlement seems to be a mystery.
I’ve heard it before many times: “But I’m a blood relative!” goes the rally cry. Of course, this has little to do with the distribution of assets and rights through a will or trust. The next declaration is usually “I need the money” or “It’s not fair.” Perhaps, but most people are familiar with this in the context of estate administration. The wealthy uncle leaves his assets to a favorite relative and leaves others out for whatever reason (or no reason at all). The result can be harsh to those who are left without a share, but the law by necessity tolerates and supports such results.
I had the opportunity to travel to Jerusalem and meet with those responsible for administering Einstein’s licensing program. The distribution of Einstein’s intellectual property rights is clear from his testamentary documents. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem was chosen by Einstein to receive not only his literary rights but also the intellectual property rights to his name, image and likeness.
Whether or not Einstein could have envisioned the business that stems from licensing of uses such as “Baby Einstein” or Einstein lookalikes in commercials is irrelevant. Einstein made his choice and entrusted his literary and intellectual property rights to the University, which for its part is doing a diligent job in being selective in what merchandising and advertising of Einstein is allowed.
Einstein died in 1955. It has been 56 years since Einstein’s asset distribution took effect. Evelyn’s claim might be a bit late at this point.
Here’s a link to the story: http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/02/10/california.einstein.granddaughter/index.html?hpt=T2
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