Celebrity marks: an emerging concern


Amit Mahajan

A celebrity is entitled to use publicity or image rights to commercially exploit the goodwill associated with their fame. Amit Mahajan explains.

Simply put, rights of publicity or image rights allow a celebrity to charge for the use of their name, likeness, photograph, voice or personality. The law enables protection against the unauthorised exploitation by others of the goodwill associated with the celebrity.

Legally, celebrities are no different to other providers of goods or services to the public and qualify for the same level of protection. As commercialisation is evolving, we have witnessed celebrities acquiring brand status and registering their names as trademarks—Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and the Spice Girls are examples.

The concept of publicity rights is based on the idea that every individual should have control over commercialising their persona. Stars invest a great deal of hard work and talent in acquiring their status and are entitled to reap the benefit of their efforts.

Celebrity names, trademark