Rights of Publicity & Privacy

The right to control the commercial use of one’s identity, also known as the “right of publicity,” is an increasingly important area of intellectual property law as sponsorships and endorsements have become commonplace in advertising and as damages in right of publicity cases have risen substantially. Ladas & Parry has represented the interests of many famous individuals and groups whose name, likeness, or image are an important asset. We also counsel lesser known clients regarding their recourse against others that misappropriate their personas for commercial use and rights of privacy issues such as intrusion, false light, and truthful publication of private facts. We believe that policing of proper use of one’s identity is essential for successful enforcement of a client’s rights of publicity and privacy. We also represent the estates of many late artists and celebrities to develop strategies to protect and commercialize their name and likeness rights posthumously.

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+ Negotiating Endorsement, Sponsorship & License Agreements

We have expertise in representing individuals entering into endorsement, sponsorship and license agreements for use in commercial advertising, branded entertainment, and product merchandising. Our international transactional IP practice enables us to appreciate the variation in publicity rights on a global scale to ensure that our clients are receiving the full benefits appropriate under a particular agreement. Endorsement, sponsorship, and licensing deals are often only one aspect of our services to our entertainment clients, including clients ranging from major record labels, production companies and motion-picture companies to visual artists, recording artists, actors, and comedians.

+ Misappropriation of the Right of Publicity in the United States

Protection of one’s name, image, or likeness is not governed by federal law in the United States and levels of protection vary greatly both from state to state and from country to country. In all U.S. states that recognize a right of publicity, the right extends to public figures, and in a majority of U.S. states, courts will also allow non-public figures to claim a right of publicity when their image is used for commercial purposes without consent. Our knowledge of the various laws which grant right of publicity protection allows us to provide clients with a comprehensive understanding of where they do and do not have rights recognized by law and how best to combat misuse of their rights. We have successfully settled many right of publicity cases.

+ The Rights of Publicity and Privacy Throughout the World

Rights of publicity and privacy vary throughout the world.   As global IP specialists, we counsel our clients on international and local laws and strategies that will protect their rights in their name and likeness or that of their celebrated deceased ancestors.  Even in many countries that do not formally recognize a post-mortem right of publicity or privacy, other laws, such as trademark, unfair competition, passing off, or false endorsement, may be used to serve a similar purpose.  We counsel clients regarding these rights throughout the world and how to effectively commercialize and protect their name, image and likeness, and/or prevent others from doing so without authorization.

+ Protecting Identity Through Registered Trademarks

An effective means of protecting one’s image and likeness can be through trademark registration.  Because almost anything can be protected by a trademark, celebrities and public figures will often seek trademark registration for their names, signatures, images of their faces, and other identifying features, to use in connection with goods sold or services rendered in key categories.  We have utilized trademark registration to protect the names and other characteristics of many clients as a complement to the right of publicity or an alternative when other forms of protection are unavailable. We have counseled estates of late public figures or celebrities to determine the best means of post mortem protection.

+ Domain Names & Social Media

Through Principium Strategies, Ladas & Parry’s affiliated brand monitoring service and ICANN-accredited domain name registry subsidiary, we assist clients in proactively monitoring and registering their personal names as domains and as usernames, pages, and groups on social media websites, whether to reserve the name for use or to prevent or stop others from misappropriating the name for their own purposes.

+ Entities and Ownership

In anticipation that efforts to commercialize the persona of a deceased artist or celebrity will be successful, we counsel their estates on appropriate vehicles for ownership of posthumous rights in order to reduce the risks of disputes by individual parties over ownership of those rights.