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Commercial use of Steve McQueen’s name in dispute again

News and Notes Focused on the 3 Public Faces of IP Law

  • Brand Image Protection - Trademark Law
  • Visual Image Protection - Copyright Law
  • Personal Image Protection - Right of Publicity Law

The Image Protection Law blog has been created in order to share stories and information on the legal aspects of: 1) the marketplace reputation of a company or product captured in its trademark, 2) published or publicly-displayed artwork, photography, and any created visual design, and 3) use of a person's photograph or likeness for product promotion or other commercial purposes.

The "IP3" share at least one thing in common: Image is everything. In these posts let's look at what that means in the realm of intellectual property in the news, but let's also be prepared to explore if there's something more beyond "everything." Don't forget, the intellectual in "intellectual property" doesn't mean smart or brainy, although by nature true creators often are. The word is used to refer to any creation, i.e., a "product of the mind." While this blog will be regularly updated, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these posts.

This time, the dispute is over cardigan sweaters. Last time, it was over luxury cars. In both cases, Chadwick McQueen, the son of deceased actor Steve McQueen, objected to companies using his father’s name to sell their products.

In August 2018, we shared information about the McQueen family’s lawsuit against Ferrari over the use of Steve McQueen’s name without permission to refer to a limited-edition car. Claims in that suit included violation of the right of publicity, trademark infringement and others.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Chadwick McQueen filed another suit in March 2019 against fashion brand Tom Ford over its line of cardigan sweaters called “McQueen.” The lawsuit alleges trademark infringement, unfair competition, false endorsement and other claims.

Steve McQueen reportedly was famous for wearing button-up wool cardigans with lapel or “shawl” collars like one pictured in the Hollywood Reporter article available for viewing at the above link. The article also shows pictures of the Tom Ford McQueen sweaters for comparison. Significantly, the sweaters are high priced at $2,390 and $1,690.

The article cites the complaint as saying that two department stores use Steve McQueen’s full name in promoting the sweater line.

The lawsuit is requesting:

  • An order to destroy any marketing materials using Steve McQueen’s image or name
  • Defendant’s profits from McQueen sweaters
  • An order that the associated companies stop using McQueen’s “trademark, name, persona or likeness or implying an association with the family” (quoting the article)
  • At least $2 million for statutory damages for each registered trademark that defendant infringed
  • Punitive damages (those meant to punish the wrongdoer rather than compensate, and to deter others from the same behavior)

We will report back in this space if more information about the suit becomes available.





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