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Is it legal to use a famous persons name in a product line?

Boise, ID |

For instance, Joe "Cocker" spaniel cookies

Attorney Answers 2

  1. Most states have a statute or common law rule that prohibits using someone else's "name, image, or likeness" for commercial purposes without first obtaining that person's consent. This is known as the "right of publicity" or, in some states, the "right of privacy." It is a species of "personal injury" law. Unless you have “Joe Cocker’s” permission, you may be violating state law right of publicity/privacy.

  2. In addition to privacy tort laws (as mentioned above), there are also trademark issues that Joe Cocker (or his estate? I don't know if he's still living :-P) could bring against you. In general, you never want to use someone's name, picture likeness, or voice likeness in advertising unless that person has given you expressed written consent.

    **This post does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create any attorney-client relationship between Sadiq Ansari and any other individual or entity.**