Here's lookin' at lawsuits. Burberry has sued to use Humphrey Bogart's picture on its Facebook page, The Hollywood Reporter reports.
The lawsuit was filed against Bogart LLC, the owner of the late actor's name and image. The dispute started when the British clothing retailer posted a picture of Bogart from "Casablanca" on its Facebook timeline. Bogart is wearing a Burberry trench coat in the photo.
The company claims it's using the picture to show Burberry's fashion history, and not to sell its products. But Bogart LLC disagrees.
Publicity rights protect a person's image or name from being used for commercial purposes without permission. Trademarks offer similar protection. They're used to prevent the public from confusing a trademarked product with an infringer's.
Bogart LLC claims it never authorized the photo's use. Its representatives have also filed a lawsuit against Burberry to enforce its intellectual property rights.
Burberry has taken an interesting stance in its lawsuit. The company asserts forcing them to remove the picture violates its First Amendment right to tell its history. Burberry also claims it paid a licensing fee to Corbis, a photo agency, to use the image.
The results of these lawsuits could change the advertising landscape. Many companies utilize social media services to promote their brands and reach out to customers. In this sense, the line between commercial and non-commercial activity is often blurred.
However, Stephen Bogart, the late actor's son, believes Burberry overstepped its bounds. He calls the company's actions a "clever way to get Hollywood icons to endorse or advertise products without paying compensation," AFP reports.
It's too early to tell if Burberry's decision to sue over its use of Humphrey Bogart's picture will work out in its favor.