Humphery Bogart’s estate has sued snooty clothing manufacturer Burberry in California, asserting violations of the actor’s right of publicity, trademark and other common law rights. Burberry has counter sued the actor’s estate in New York, asserting that it has First Amendment rights to recount its history and show that Bogie and other dead stars wore its noirtastic raincoats.
Crimezine notes that laws enforcing rights of publicity, differ widely throughout The United States. Roughly half the states recognize these rights and most of those that do don’t actually refer to the “right of publicity” as such, but rather a category of the Right of Privacy.
In the State of California, a statute known as the Celebrities Rights Act extends the personality rights for celebrities for 70 years after death.
The law came into effect in 1985 in response to the California Supreme Court’s 1979 decision in Lugosi v. Universal Pictures. The high court decided that Dracula actor Bela Lugosi’s creepy personality rights could not pass to his heirs, like other forms of intellectual property, ruling that any rights of publicity and image terminated with Lugosi’s death. Which seems somewhat unreasonable to Crimezine, as by definition, vampires are: the living dead.
Now the California Civil Code has a section which grants statutory post-mortem rights prohibiting the unsanctioned use of the “name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness on or in products, merchandise or goods” of any person. The dead must be happy that their legal affairs are so comprehensively protected.
A spokesperson for the Bogart brand added as a sulky addendum: Bogart wore Aquascutum anyway… So now we know.
Whatever next Crimezine wonders; A legal battle over which brand of flavorsome smokes finally sent noirs greatest detective to meet his maker? Now that would be ridiculous, everyone knows that prior to 1950 the health-some, life-giving qualities of cigarettes were a major selling point.
Humphery Bogart had just turned 57 when he died of cancer on January 14, 1957. He weighed 80 pounds (36kg). His death was widely attributed to a life of heavy smoking and drinking. RIP Bogie Crimezine loves ya buddy.