Posts Tagged ‘right of publicity’

December 2 roundup

  • “Lying to a Lover Could Become ‘Rape’ In New Jersey” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason, Scott Greenfield]
  • “A $21 Check Prompts Toyota Driver to Wonder Who Benefited from Class Action” [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog]
  • On “right of publicity” litigation over the image of the late General George Patton [Eugene Volokh]
  • HBO exec: “We have probably 160 lawyers” looking at film about Scientology [The Hollywood Reporter]
  • Revisiting the old and unlamented Cambridge, Mass. rent control system [Fred Meyer, earlier]
  • Lawyers! Wanna win big by appealing to the jurors’ “reptile” brain? Check this highly educational offering [Keenan Ball]
  • “Suit claims Google’s listings for unlicensed locksmiths harmed licensed business” [ABA Journal]

Statutes of limitation and the pancake box

The R.T. Davis Milling Co.’s Aunt Jemima brand of self-rising pancake mix was a big hit at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, thanks in part to the efforts of Nancy Green, the first of a series of women hired (after auditions) to promote the established brand, which had been named after a vaudeville tune of the day. (It is now owned by Pepsico’s Quaker Oats subsidiary.) Green’s popularity in the role won her a lifetime contract with the company which ended with her death in 1923, but now, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal]:

a lawsuit claims that Green’s heirs as well as the descendants of other black women who appeared as Aunt Jemima deserve $2 billion and a share of future revenue from sales of the popular brand.

If courts are to take statutes of limitation seriously, it is hard to see why such a suit does not deserve sanctions. If on the other hand courts are to begin ignoring statutes of limitation, Quaker might want to check into the packaging on its round box of breakfast oats, lest the heirs of William Penn (1644-1718) get any ideas. (& Debbi Baker, San Diego Union-Tribune; Amy Alkon, Advice Goddess)

Intellectual property roundup

  • “Kanye West Sues Coinye Altcoin into Oblivion” [CoinDesk]
  • Not new, but new to me: animated riff on Hindu “Ramayana” saga winds up in public domain because of inability to clear copyright on songs of Jazz-Age vocalist Annette Hanshaw [Nina Paley, “Sita Sings the Blues”]
  • “Update: Supreme Court Issues Two More Patent Law Rulings” [WLF; Limelight and Nautilis]
  • On copyright, more litigious not always better: “The Authors Alliance vs. The Authors Guild” [Alex Tabarrok quoting Virginia Postrel]
  • “Thwarting ‘patent trolls': Not as easy as it sounds” [Michael Rosen, AEI] “Trolls and Trial Lawyers Should Curb Their Enthusiasm Over Patent Reform Timeout” [Cory Andrews, WLF]
  • “I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit” – [Elon Musk, Tesla; Brad Greenburg, Concurring Opinions]
  • Ready for Hillary is latest political campaign to fire off takedown demand against satirical product [Paul Alan Levy]

Imprisoned Panama dictator sues game maker over “Call of Duty” character

“Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega, 80, filed a lawsuit in California yesterday against video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc., alleging that Call of Duty: Black Ops II portrays him as ‘a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.'” [Adrianne Jeffries/The Verge, New York Post, L.A. Times] Citing the mess that is California “right of publicity” law, Eugene Volokh writes that such a suit is “crazy, but unfortunately possible.”

Frontiers of the “right of publicity”

In general it’s actionable to claim, without a Hollywood celebrity’s consent, that he or she recommends or endorses your fashion item. But what about merely asserting, accurately, that the character played by the celebrity wore the item in a movie? Or publicizing a picture taken in a public place of the celebrity shopping for one’s product or at one’s store? Lawsuits filed on behalf of actresses Sandra Bullock, Katherine Heigl, and Halle Berry may help shed light on the question. [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]