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Singer sues retailer over allegedly copycat social media posts

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.

Pop star Ariana Grande has filed a federal lawsuit against retailer Forever 21 and an affiliate because of social media and website postings she alleges copied elements of her music videos of the chart-topping song “7 Rings” and of the song “Thank U, Next,” according to The New York Times. The Times article includes pictures of the images in controversy from her complaint, including use of a lookalike model, similar clothing and other imagery resembling that used in Grande’s video.

Reuters says the complaint alleges that the defendant companies “misappropriated at least 30 images and videos, including by using audio and lyrics.”

The singer is asking for $10 million in damages in the suit filed in federal court in Los Angeles for false endorsement, violation of the right of publicity, copyright infringement and trademark infringement.

The right of publicity under California state law is a person’s right to the commercial use of their image, voice and persona, which others may not use for profit without permission.

Reuters further reported that Grande and Forever 21 had been in negotiations for a potential joint marketing project in which the singer would endorse the retailer, but she pulled out when they could not agree on a price tag for the endorsement.

Forever 21 declined comment on the pending suit as dictated by company policy but said in a statement that although they dispute her allegations, they are “huge supporters” and have “worked with her licensing company” for the last two years, according to Reuters.

We will keep an eye on this lawsuit and report significant developments to readers in this space.

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