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Can I put an actress picture on a shirt for sale?

Nashville, TN |

I want to start a business and sale shirts based on a tv show and my company has already been patent.

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Attorney answers 4


To do what you propose, you will need a license from the actress, who likely has publicity rights in her image, as well as the producer of the TV show, which likely has a copyright interest in the character.

Obtaining a license of this sort is not impossible, but you will need to engage counsel experienced in licensing IP such as this. The deals can be quite tricky.

Good luck!

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick


Even if the company is patent? LOL


As my colleague notes, this will likely violate that person's right of privacy and publicity. These are state causes of action and each state has different statutes. For example, some states extend this right to dead people, including TN:

47-25-1104 Exclusivity and duration of right. (a) The rights provided for in this part shall be deemed exclusive to the individual, subject to the assignment or licensing of such rights as provided in s 47-25-1103, during such individual’s lifetime and to the executors, heirs, assigns, or devisees for a period of ten (10) years after the death of the individual. (b)(1) Commercial exploitation of the property right by any executor, assignee, heir, or devisee if the individual is deceased shall maintain the right as the exclusive property of the executor, assignee, heir, or devisee until such right is terminated as provided in this subsection (b). (2) The exclusive right to commercial exploitation of the property rights is terminated by proof of the non-use of the name, likeness, or image of any individual for commercial purposes by an executor, assignee, heir, or devisee to such use for a period of two (2) years subsequent to the initial ten (10) year period following the individual’s death.

CREDIT [Acts 1984, ch. 945, s 4.]

So you really need to be careful here. I would reach out to a lawyer in private and get some guidance before investing in this activity.

Best regards,

DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed with the law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC on the basis of this posting.


People have a right to their likeness. What you propose would violate that right. you will need to seek the permission of the actress prior to moving forward.

The answer to this question is for informational purposes only and does not form an attorney-client relationship.


You can until some Judge orders you to stop. It might cost you thousands of dollars in damages, however. Lots of people would like to steal intellectual property from TV studios. Lots of people would like to rob a bank if they could. Lots of people are immoral thieves.

Your company has already been patent? What the heck does that mean? You can't patent a company. Perhaps you mean you have already incorporated under the brand name you want to use when you steal the persona of the actress. Hopefully you did not also incorporate under the name of the actress or TV show, as that is likely to be discovered by the TV studio attorneys. Or maybe you mean your company has a patent on some shirt printing machine, although that would be totally irrelevant to whether you could violate the publicity rights of the actress.

You are all messed up. You need to hire an attorney. Isn't that why you are here asking this messed up question?

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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