by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jun 15th 2010 12:09pm
We've mentioned it in passing on this site, but one especially troubling area of what (misleadingly) called "intellectual property" law is the rise of publicity and/or privacy rights (especially in New York and California), which try to get famous people an "intellectual property" type monopoly right over their names or likenesses, even in ridiculous situations. The latest such example involves the estate of actor Humphrey Bogart, suing furniture company Ashley Furniture for creating a furniture colleciton named "Bogart." From what I can tell, it looks like.. well, lots of other furniture on the market these days. For example, below is the sectional/recliner sofa:
Having recently gone shopping for similar couches, I can tell you first hand that they pretty much all look like that. Nothing about that couch screams "Humphrey Bogart," and the name certainly isn't going to make one bit of difference in the purchasing decision. It's not as if the name makes a big difference here, so it's pretty silly to claim that anyone is buying anything in this collection of furniture because of the association with the actor. But, that's what happens when you get ridiculous laws like publicity rights laws, that create a monopoly right out of someone's name.
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