The right of publicity prevents the unauthorized commercial use of a person’s name, likeness, or other identifiable aspects. It grants individuals the exclusive right to authorize the use of their identity for commercial promotional purposes.
Here is where things can get a little complicated.
In the United States, the right of publicity is largely protected by common or state laws. Only about half of the states explicitly recognize the right to disclosure though. Of these, many do not recognize rights to a name and instead protect it under privacy rights.
The Second Restatement of Torts recognizes four types of invasion of privacy: invasion, appropriation of name or likeness, unfair advertising, and false illumination. As noted in the Restatement, image infringement is most closely related to the unauthorized misappropriation of someone’s name or likeness.
In other countries, the right to advertise is protected by unfair competition laws. Misappropriation or misuse of an authorized product or an individual’s product helps protect publicity rights.
If a person can identify an aspect of their identity as a trademark, protection may be granted under federal law.
Federal Lanham Statute also provides protection when a person’s identity is used to advertise a product or indicate its origin.
With years of experience representing trademark and copyright clients, The Law Offices of Sethi and Mazaheri are ready to assist you in all your trademark matters. Also take a look at the breakdown for international trademark and copyright. We’ve got it covered.
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