Multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning recording artist Ariana Grande recently filed a lawsuit against the popular fashion retailer Forever 21 alleging its unauthorized use of her likeness, trademarks, and copyright material to create a false perception that Ms. Grande had endorsed Forever 21’s brand and merchandise. Ms. Grande’s complaint seeks $10 million for violating her right to publicity, among other causes of action, in response to Forever 21’s social media campaign which suggests Ms. Grande’s endorsement through a “strikingly similar” model. More on Ariana Grande’s lawsuit here.
It may come naturally to assume that the claims made by Ms. Grande are unique or limited to celebrities. But, whether or not you have networked any A-list celebrities to advertise or endorse your business or products, these issues are worth considering if you do any kind of advertisement for your business. All individuals have the right to control the commercial use of their name, likeness, voice, signature or other personal identifying traits. Any time you would like to use someone’s name or photograph in a commercial setting (advertising, social media posts, or other promotional activities or published content) it is important to consider any necessary steps to prevent inadvertent unauthorized use of that person’s name, picture, likeness, voice, etc. These efforts may include obtaining the person’s consent, a form of endorsement agreement, or disclosures in the advertisement or promotional material, depending on the scenario.
If you currently use social media platforms as a primary means of advertisement, publish advertisements online or in any print media, or are considering any form of promotion of your business and would like to discuss these issues or other concerns please contact SMP and one of our knowledgeable attorneys can assist you.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, advertisement, or solicitation of any kind. Please contact an SMP attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.