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Archives: Rights of Publicity


By now, everyone and their tiger mom has heard of Jeremy Lin, the Harvard-educated basketball sensation. My understanding is that the new version of the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) will include Linsanity as a medically-treatable condition. Before we all run out and get vaccinated, let’s consider the trademark issues. I promise to do my very best to avoid all of the various “Lin” puns.

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Can Tattoos Be Copyrighted?

Mike Tyson is known  for many things, from boxing to ear biting. He has also made many movie and TV cameo appearances, and is well known for having a Maori-inspired tattoo covering the left side of his face. S. Victor Whitmill, the creator of the tattoo, has never had a problem with Mike Tyson making appearances in movies and TV shows with the tattoo, including The Hangover, but when the producers of The Hangover Part II attempted to duplicate that tattoo on Ed Helms’ face for the movie, Whitmill sued Warner Brothers for copyright infringement. The case ultimately settled before…

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Who Owns Lady Gaga – Names as Trademarks

Lady Gaga is currently one of the biggest selling recording artists in the world, the most followed person on Twitter with almost 15,000,000 million followers, and generates millions in revenue from her recordings, tours, and merchandise. So when Excite Worldwide, a company unaffiliated with Lady Gaga, attempted to register the name LADY GAGA as a trademark for their cosmetics and jewelry line, Lady Gaga responded by filing a lawsuit. What are the rules about names as trademarks, and do they apply equally to famous names and the names of regular people?

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Kim Kardashian v. Old Navy, Featuring Robot Vanna White & a Fake Tom Waits

The celebrity (although I’m not sure why) Kim Kardashian is suing Old Navy and its parent company Gap, Inc. in Los Angeles federal court for using a lookalike model in their advertisements. Specifically, Kardashian claims that this video violates her rights of publicity by featuring a model who very closely resembles Kardashian. The video itself has generated more than 2 million views on YouTube to date. Kardashian’s suit alleges that the reality TV star “has invested substantial time, energy, finances and entrepreneurial effort in developing her considerable professional and commercial achievements and success, as well as in developing her popularity,…

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