Daniel Rozansky, Heather Antoine, and Jeremy Beutler’s article entitled, “Protecting Image and Likeness Through Trademark Law,” was published by The National Law Review on October 19, 2021. The article highlights how bringing a claim for false endorsement under trademark law can serve as a lesser-known avenue to protecting a celebrity’s image, and examines the Second Circuit’s recent decision in Electra v. 59 Murray Enters., Inc.
In the Electra case, a group of models, actresses, and businesswomen, including celebrity Carmen Electra, brought false endorsement claims under the Lanham Act against the owners of various New York City-based strip clubs for using their images and likenesses to promote the clubs, alleging that the use of their images falsely conveyed their endorsement or approval of the clubs’ services. The article delves into the outcome of the case in district court and then in the Second Circuit court of appeals, and outlines critical considerations related to celebrity image and trademark law, as well as instances of celebrities who have sought to acquire trademark registrations for elements of their persona for endorsements and sponsorships purposes. A group of plaintiffs from the Electra case have sought review by the Supreme Court of the Second Circuit’s decision, though it remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court will weigh in on the issue.