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Right of Publicity, Not Just for Celebrities

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.

  Smith McDowell & Powell   Sep 19, 2019   Blog, Business and Corporate, Entertainment, In the News, Small Business   Comments Off on Right of Publicity, Not Just for Celebrities   Read More

SMP Congratulates Newest Associate, Kimberly Van Spronsen

SMP Congratulates Newest Associate, Kimberly Van Spronsen

Smith, McDowell & Powell is proud to announce that former Senior Law Clerk, Kimberly Van Spronsen recently passed the California State BAR exam and has joined our growing list of associate attorneys.  Kimberly first arrived at SMP in the spring of 2015 as a law clerk while attending McGeorge School of Law where she graduated with great distinction and was admitted to the Roger J. Traynor Honor Society for academic excellence.  Since joining SMP, she has assisted in numerous legal matters including business transactions, corporate formations, estate planning, real estate transactions and more.  Having grown up on a family-owned almond ranch, Kimberly has a deep appreciation for the efforts of small business owners and hopes to carry on the tradition of hard work and excellence throughout her legal career. The entire team at Smith, McDowell & Powell are excited to see Kimberly’s professional future unfold and have every confidence that she will continue to achieve great things. To read more about Kimberly, check out our website and this week’s Sacramento Business Journal as a person “on the move.”

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Dec 14, 2016   Blog, Business and Corporate, Civil Litigation, Employment, In the News, Real Estate, Small Business   Comments Off on SMP Congratulates Newest Associate, Kimberly Van Spronsen   Read More

Powell Moderates Televised Candidates Forum at The Barn

SMP Shareholder, Jaclyn Powell, channeled her inner Lester Holt and Martha Raddatz, and moderated this year’s West Sacramento Candidate’s Forum at The Barn. Powell has moderated the debates in West Sacramento for the last three election years on behalf of the West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce and this year’s forum did not disappoint. The Chamber had all five candidates running for City Council participate, and four of the five candidates running for Washington Unified School Board participate. Unfortunately, there was no time for rebuttal given the high number of participants (and Jaclyn believes that there would have been some discerning rebuttal had it been allowed), but the re-imagined forum served its purpose and allowed for great insight into each candidate’s platform.

The Forum will be repeated on Channel 20 until Election Day. You can also view the videos here.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Oct 12, 2016   Blog, Community Involvement, In the News   Comments Off on Powell Moderates Televised Candidates Forum at The Barn   Read More

SMP Attorneys Walk the Mile to End Domestic Violence

SMP Attorneys Walk the Mile to End Domestic Violence

On Saturday, April 23rd,  Sacramento W.E.A.V.E. (Women Escaping a Violent Environment) will host their annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, where over a thousand men will take a stand against violence against women by donning their favorite high-heeled shoes and walking the capitol mall.  This endeavor raises funds and awareness for W.E.A.V.E, a 24-hour crisis intervention program which provides resources and aid for victims of domestic violence.  Last year, our team was able to help raise over $20,000.00 for this worthy cause, and if you are interested in joining or learning about this program, click here.

  Smith, McDowell & Powell   Apr 13, 2016   Blog, Community Involvement, In the News   Comments Off on SMP Attorneys Walk the Mile to End Domestic Violence   Read More