Celebrity Estates in Trademark Battles with Top Furniture Companies

Celebrity estates are currently waging full-on legal battles with various furniture companies. It seems that furniture retailers want to use sophisticated, luxury-loving deceased actor icons to sell more sofas and sectionals. But without proper licensing agreements, furniture companies cannot casually use a late actor’s name or likeness for their benefit.

In August, Brando Enterprises sued Rooms to Go in Los Angeles Superior Court for trademark infringement on a furniture line called the “Brando”. Brando’s name, image, and any trademarks should have been cleared with Brando Enterprises before Rooms to Go used it. Brando Enterprises also sued Ashley furniture earlier in the year for unlicensed “Brando” sofas and ottomans. A look on Brando Enterprises’ website shows that they do have many licensing agreements and partnerships and are willing to entertain putting the Brando likeness on products from apparel and hotels to cars. “The goods” – as it is called on the website – shows the business interests the group is willing to align with as outlined in Marlon Brando’s trust documents and wishes.

Ashley Furniture has also been sued by Humphrey Bogart’s estate over “Bogart” couches. His estate alleged that the furniture could “confuse, mislead or deceive the consuming public” that the estate approved the use of his name. Ashley Furniture contends that the name has become more of generic term akin to “bogarting” an object. As the number one furniture retailer in the U.S., Ashley Furniture made $2.3 billion in 2010 sales on all product lines.

Companies do not have to skirt licensing agreements to make their furniture successful and profitable. Good partnerships with celebrities – living or deceased – to sell and market furniture items can be created. For example, the Cindy Crawford line at Rooms to Go generated $100 million in revenues and by all accounts seems to be a mutually beneficial product line.

“We’re living in the age of celebrity,” said Carl Levine, a New York licensing consultant. “We are looking for endorsements. People are looking for something to connect to. Consumers shopping for furniture respond to names they’re used to seeing in People magazine.”

The furniture industry and many retailers, for that matter, vie for a celebrity to make their items more glamorous, coveted, and make a person feel like the object will give them the lifestyle of the icon that is attached to it.

The Los Angeles trademark attorney Anthony Spotora is skilled in upholding a celebrity and estate’s trademark rights and aggressively protecting them. The Law Offices of Spotora & Associates has decades of experience representing clients in their intellectual property and entertainment law matters. Their team of attorneys are all senior level counsel that have represented well-known talent, studios, agencies, networks, and production houses in all facets of the industry. To learn more, visit https://www.spotoralaw.com/ or call (877) 4U-EZ-LEGAL.

For more information:
Law Offices of Spotora & Associates, P.C.
1801 Century Park East, 24th Floor
Los Angeles, California 90067-2302

P (310) 556.9641
F (310) 556.9642
Toll Free: (877) 4U-EZ-LEGAL

Anthony Spotora is a Los Angeles entertainment lawyer and Los Angeles business attorney. To learn more, visit Spotoralaw.com.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 at 1:25 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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