It’s the time of year when we Americans honor the Stars and Stripes, but people all over the world get starry-eyed over celebrities.  Recognizing this, advertisers like to use celebrity images in advertising.  Recently, we wrote about Katherine Heigl’s $6 million lawsuit against Duane Reade for a tweet using her photo without her permission, and the blog got so many hits that we thought that we would dive deeper and look at a couple of the more interesting new developments in the U.S. and other countries on the issue of who has the right to use celebrity images or likenesses in advertising.

It should come as no surprise that a celebrity wants to control the right of third parties to use his or her likeness in advertising or commerce.  A celebrity’s image is her brand, and that brand (sometimes regardless of any demonstrable skill) is what keeps her marketable to the public. Further, in the U.S., many states recognize personality rights, including the right of publicity—in other words, the right to keep one’s name and image from being commercially exploited without permission and/or compensation.  With the growing popularity of social media, the ability of third parties to appropriate celebrity images and other intellectual property has expanded, but celebrities have been fighting back, a la Katie Heigl, in both the U.S. and in other countries and in sometimes unconventional ways.

For example, in France, Scarlett Johansson is suing a novelist for €50,000 alleging that his fictional work makes fraudulent characterizations about her life. 
Continue Reading Don’t Let the Stars in Your Eyes Blind You to the Risks of Celebrity Ad Campaigns

Editor’s Note:

As promised, here is an update on ASA Developments from our friends at Lewis Silkin LLP. We were very interested in this case development from the UK around the issue of whether good faith reliance on a third party’s representations is sufficient due diligence to support claims. Below you will find an alert

Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada’s much-anticipated Richard decision signaled a shift in Canadian consumer protection law and a rejection of the traditional “buyer beware” standard.  What the Richard decision means for businesses marketing products on both sides of the border remains an open question, although for the time being caution should be exercised

British Sky Broadcasting (“Sky”) together with members of the public challenged whether references in Virgin Media’s adverts for a “Free TiVo Box activation” for the TiVo service from Virgin were misleading and could be substantiated. The complainants suggested that the ads were misleading because they failed to make it clear that an installation charge of