Category Archives: trademark law

County Lacks Trademark Protection for its Official Seal- Originally Published Jun 17, 2014

Does a New Jersey county have trademark protection in its official seal? According to a federal judge, the answer is no.

Judge Kevin McNulty recently ruled that the county could not stop a local citizen from using Union County’s seal in a television program in which she was critical of the county. In that case Union County had sought a ruling that she was infringing on the county’s trademark rights. The court determined that she could not win such a claim because the county did not possess such rights.

© 2014 Nissenbaum Law Group, LLC

Can the Estate of a Person Who is Deceased Enforce that Person’s Right of Publicity?

Marilyn Monroe passed away in 1962.  Her estate has zealously enforced her trademark and other intellectual property rights from those who would infringe upon it.  However, there are other common law rights that might apply, such as the right of publicity, which would likewise bar someone from using her name and likeness.  The question that was before the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in August of 2012 was whether that right of publicity could be applied in Marilyn Monroe’s case.  Archives v. Monroe, 692 F.3d 983, (9thCir. 2012).
The twist in that case was that the Court had to determine whether Monroe was a resident of New York or California at the time that she passed away. If she had been a resident of New York, she would have no right of publicity since that state does not provide for such a right after death.  If she were a resident of California at the time that she passed away, she would have such a right since California amended its law to provide for such Monroe’s estate in particular to be able to avail itself of that protection.

The Court determined that Monroe did not have such a right since she was a resident of New York at the time that she was deceased. Although she had moved to California and committed suicide there the estate had taken the position in previous cases that she was a resident of New York.  Therefore under a theory of judicial estoppel, the Court found the estate was not allowed to make a contrary assertion in this later suit just because it was more advantageous. 

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© 2014 Nissenbaum Law Group, LLC