Tag: Right of Publicity

Louisiana’s Allen Toussaint Legacy Act Heads to Governor’s Desk

After several years of trying, the Allen Toussaint Legacy Act has now passed both chambers of the Louisiana legislature and was sent yesterday to the Governor for signature. The Act, SB426, is named after the famed New Orleans musician, songwriter, and producer, Allen Toussaint who died in 2015. The proposed law provides individuals with a...

“Navigating the Identity Thicket” Out in the Harvard Law Review

My new article, Navigating the Identity Thicket: Trademark's Lost Theory of Personality, the Right of Publicity, and Preemption, is now out in the Harvard Law Review In the Article, I shine a light on the problems created by overlapping and conflicting rights in a person's identity and suggest some ways out of the current entangled...

Federal Circuit Holds Bar on Registering “Trump Too Small” Violates First Amendment

On Thursday, the Federal Circuit decided In re Elster and reversed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB) rejection of a trademark application by Steve Elster to register “Trump Too Small” on t-shirts and other apparel. An example of the relevant merchandise can be seen here. The examining attorney for the Patent and Trademark Office...

Third Circuit Holds that Newscaster’s Right of Publicity Claim can Proceed against Facebook

The Third Circuit in a 2-to-1 decision in Hepp v. Facebook has parted ways with the Ninth Circuit by holding that the Communications Decency Act § 230 (CDA § 230) allows right of publicity claims. This reversal of the district court allows the plaintiff Karen Hepp’s lawsuit to proceed against Facebook. The case involves a...

Toddlers’ Lawsuit Against Trump Tossed in Test of New York’s Expanded anti-SLAPP Law

On July 9th, a New York trial court dismissed the high-profile lawsuit against Trump, Trump for President, Inc. (“TFP), and Lance Cook brought by the parents of two toddlers whose embrace was transformed from a meme of racial harmony into an edited video suggesting one of them was a “racist baby.” The parents of the two-year olds...

Dua Lipa Sued Over Posting Photo of Herself on Instagram

Dua Lipa has been sued by Integral Images, Inc. in district court in California for posting a photo of herself on her Instagram feed.  This is yet another in a string of copyright lawsuits arising out of celebrities (like Khloe Kardashian & Tom Brady) posting images of themselves on social media when they are not the copyright holders of...

Sacha Baron Cohen Sues Over Unauthorized Ad Campaign

Earlier this week, film and television actor Sacha Baron Cohen and his company, Please You Can Touch, sued Solar Therapeutics in district court in Massachusetts for the unauthorized use of his likeness, Borat character, and the character's catch-phrase in a billboard advertisement for a cannabis company.  The complaint sets forth claims for a right of publicity violation...

Coca-Cola Wins Round II as California Appellate Court Reverses Massive Jury Award

The California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District reversed an almost $10 million jury award against Coca-Cola in Hansen v. Coca-Cola Company in a recent unpublished decision. The dispute arises out of the Hansen’s sodas and juice brand (now owned by Coca-Cola) and a trust composed of the real Hubert Hansen’s descendents who claim...

Win for Free Speech and Docudramas in New York

Last week a New York appellate court granted the defendant’s summary judgment motion in Porco v. Lifetime Entertainment Services, the long-running dispute over Lifetime’s ripped-from-the-headlines docudrama Romeo Killer: The Chris Porco Story, which first aired in 2013.  This decision reverses the trial’s court’s alarming rejection of the defendant's summary judgment motion on the basis that...

Mixed Victory for Jackson Estate in Tax Court

On May 3rd, the U.S. Tax Court issued the long-awaited decision in the long-running litigation over the estate taxes owed by the Michael Jackson estate. In a sweeping 253-page opinion (with additional appendices) the Tax Court, clearly cognizant that this opinion will likely be read by many more people than the usual tax decision, quotes...