Can I Legally Use The Image of a Famous Person (Who’s Dead)?

Can I Legally Use The Image of a Famous Person (Who’s Dead)?

Entertainment, Lanham Act, Name, Image, Likeness, Trademark
Every so often, I'm asked by clients and prospective clients alike whether or not it's permissible for them to use the name, image, or likeness ("NIL") of a celebrity or famous person who now happens to be deceased. This question was asked of me the other day by clients who wanted to put the face of, oh, let's just say, Che Guevara, on an article of clothing with some meme-worthy text. Delightful, right? I mean, what's the big deal; he's not going to complain, right? The Right of Publicity Unfortunately, while the famed Marxist revolutionary might not be around to complain, his estate or heirs likely are. There is a thing in the law known as a person's right of publicity, which basically deals with one's right to monetize or…
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Can I Really Be Forced to Sell My Domain Name?

Can I Really Be Forced to Sell My Domain Name?

Domain Names, E-Commerce, Trademark, Trademark Infringement
Is it possible for the owner of a domain name used for a business to be forced to sell their domain name? Earlier this month, I received a frantic e-mail from a business owner (to protect the innocent, let’s call her "Debbie"), who had received a threatening e-mail from another business owner (whom we’ll call "Penny"). Debbie’s e-mail went something like this (edited by me for brevity and client confidentiality reasons): I just learned another party has filed to trademark the name of a website I have owned now for several years. She says I have to sell her the domain name. What are my rights? Since this question (in some form or another) is often posed to me, I figured it might be the perfect time to relate some…
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How Do I Protect My Halloween Costume Idea?

How Do I Protect My Halloween Costume Idea?

Copyright, Copyright Infringement, Trademark
Maybe it’s the opportunity to get creative for an upcoming party, an excuse to eat candy brought into the office days after, or maybe it’s just that it signals the unofficial end to our hellacious Summers. Whatever the reason, Halloween rocks IMO. Earlier this year, a client of mine that designs and sells Halloween costumes (in addition to their main lines of novelty costumes, inflatables, signs, etc.) wanted to know how best to protect one of their latest designs which had been big seller so far, and which the client was also considering using as the corporate logo. In this post, we take a very high-altitude view at some of the most basic ways you can help to protect your original Halloween costume design. Copyright in Costumes Copyright protection extends…
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What Is The UDRP? (and Why It Matters to Your Business)

What Is The UDRP? (and Why It Matters to Your Business)

Domain Names, Trademark, Trademark Infringement, UDRP
In the past month, I've had a number of clients who are either facing, or are in a good position to use, the Uniform Domain-name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for their websites and domain names. Given this rash of requests to our e-commerce law firm, this might be a good idea to explain just what is the UDRP and the advantages it offers online businesses and trademark owners facing disputes over domain names utilizing or confusingly similar to their valuable brands. What is the UDRP? The explosion of the World Wide Web in the very late 20th Century led to a number of enterprising individuals attempting to register trademarks they did not own or had no legal authority to use as Internet domain names. The purpose behind this "land grab"…
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How Do I Trademark My Book Title?

How Do I Trademark My Book Title?

Entertainment, Trademark, Trademark Infringement
Stacked Books by Thought Catalog from Pexels Every now and then, I'm asked by aspiring authors, songwriters, film makers, and other creative types, “How do I trademark the title of my book [or song, movie, etc.]?” In this post, we take a look and answer the question of whether titles to books can even receive trademark protection and how you can possibly protect the economic value of that awesome book, song, or painting title of yours. Ben's Note: For purposes of this post, I will keep things simple by referring to titles of books, but, for the most part, you can extrapolate these ideas to whatever work you’ve created, e.g., new song, photograph, YouTube video, etc. Can I Trademark My Book Title? First off, let's eliminate the suspense. In general,…
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