As part of our Trademark practice, we provide right of publicity litigation services.

Publicity laws continue to evolve as the Internet and social media platforms make sharing images, creating identities, and selling easy. Right of publicity refers to one’s right to control commercial use of their identity. This right applies to public figures, celebrities, deceased celebrities “delebs”, as well as “ordinary” people.

Our intellectual property attorneys assist in protecting the right of publicity of our clients involving all forms of media and online platforms. Our privacy lawyers also defend clients in claims of infringement of privacy rights.

Publicity Law

Publicity rights laws have increasingly been a developing area of intellectual property law. Wide variations in the right exist across the different states as well as throughout different countries of the world. This evolving area of publicity law is fact growing in the midst of a digital and social media revolution. Our attorneys provide strategic counsel on the development and protection of these rights. We are well versed and experienced in handling social media law and Internet related disputes including infringement of privacy rights.

Although no federal publicity rights law exists, per se, many states have right of publicity laws that regulate how others can use the name, likeness, signature, photograph, gestures, mannerisms, or other recognizable aspects of another’s persona for commercial gain. These rights allow both celebrities and non-celebrities alike to protect against the unauthorized commercial use of their image. Additionally, it allows individuals the ability to retain control of the way they purpose their image, name, and likeness.

Since the laws vary among jurisdictions, one must understand publicity rights to properly handle an issue when it arises. It is important to seek the advice of attorneys with experience and in-depth knowledge of privacy rights laws. Our social media and privacy attorneys handle privacy disputes and right of publicity cases. From sending a cease and desist letter to litigating a case, we handle publicity rights legal issues at all stages. We also handle defense of infringement of privacy rights claims from settlement negotiations to litigation in court.

Causes of Action for Right of Publicity Claims

Though the rights and case law differ among states, the typical causes of action for publicity rights claims include:

  • Appropriation of name and likeness

  • Intrusion upon physical solitude

  • Public disclosure of private facts

  • Depiction in a false light (false or damaging lies)

In addition, Rights of Publicity issues can have related causes of action, such as:

  • Trademark infringement

  • Copyright Infringement

  • False advertising

  • Unfair Competition

  • Invasion of privacy

  • Defamation

  • Misappropriation

Our Right of Publicity Attorneys and Services

Our trial attorneys can help individuals monitor and prevent the unauthorized use of their image. We can also help prevent the unauthorized impersonation of an individual, particularly online. If that unauthorized use or impersonation has already occurred, our attorneys can help bring it to a swift end. We also help clients both minimize exposure to claims for misappropriation of rights of publicity and avoid inadvertent violations.

Additionally, we assist with the leveraging of one’s identity through licensing and other avenues in a legally sound, controlled manner.

Defenses to Publicity Rights Claims

Although there is no guaranteed list of defenses to privacy actions, the following are defenses that are often upheld:

  • Public interest matters

  • Parodies

  • Expressive works of free speech and/or fiction

  • Coincidental, Indirect, or Incidental Use

However, each case is different depending on the type of use, the manner of use, the target, and the damage that occurred. Our privacy attorneys advise on options to defend against claims of privacy rights violations.

Right of Publicity Disputes and Misappropriation of Likeness Litigation

Our trial team is experienced handling claims related to rights of publicity and misappropriation of likeness. Read more about our litigation services at our intellectual property litigation overview page and our business litigation overview page, including Misappropriation Litigation and Trademark Litigation.

Additional Insights Regarding Right of Publicity

For more information on publicity rights and misappropriation legal issues, see our Legal Insights and Industry Solutions pages.