Court Rejects Publicity Rights Claim Over Pixar's Lead Car In Cars

from the publicity-rights-over-cars?!? dept

We've talked a lot lately about the rise of "publicity rights" as a new, and dangerous, area of the law that is being used to stifle forms of speech. The idea behind it was somewhat admirable. It was to prevent companies from pretending someone famous endorsed their product when they did not. But the law has been stretched and stretched and stretched in ridiculous ways with a series of ridiculous rulings. Thankfully, the courts don't always let the really ridiculous cases go forward, such as the case where Mark Brill claims that Disney/Pixar's movie Cars violated his publicity rights, because he owns a racecar that looks similar to the lead character in the movie, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson). The article notes that "Apparently Brill is a big deal in the racing world and is closely associated with such a car." Of course, if he was that big of a deal, you would think that doing a Google image search for "Mark Brill, race car" would turn up some images. And I can't find any... Either way, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals has upheld a lower court's summary judgment against Brill, saying:
"a fictional, talking, driver-less red race car with the number 95 on it cannot be construed as a likeness of a driver of a similarly colored/numbered race car."
Nice to know there are some limits on publicity rights.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 3:47am

    Oh, Oklahoma... I wish I didn't have to live here.

    /sadface

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2010 @ 5:22am

    What? Is he afraid that someone would confuse him as Lightning McQueen the fictional cartoon race car? Or maybe he thinks it's bad publicity to have a likeness to a super popular fictional car? I don't even have a clue why this idiot would file such a claim (besides free money of course).

     

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  3.  
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    johnjac (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 5:24am

    Re:

    At least the Courts got it right this time. It would be more embarrassing had they not.

     

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  4.  
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    Cohen (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 5:32am

    McQueen? Hmmm, that name rings a bell

    I always wondered if Lightning McQueen's name was supposed to remind people of Steve McQueen who raced motorcycles and cars.
    Was that some sort of infringement of publicity rights?

     

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  5.  
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    Matt (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 5:32am

    Maybe Brill knows something we don't but it was my understanding that Lightning McQueen was supposed to look like a race car. I'm guessing Brill's car looks a lot like other races cars as well. So I guess he is trying to claim publicity rights on red race cars with stickers on them?

    If he was such a big deal in racing you'd think this would have come up earlier and he'd probably be easier to find on the internet.

     

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  6.  
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    Matt (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 5:38am

    Re: McQueen? Hmmm, that name rings a bell

    I assumed it was a reference to Steve McQueen as well, but I've read (somewhere can't find it) there was someone at pixar who pass away with the last name McQueen that was supposedly the inspiration for the name.

     

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  7.  
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    Matt (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 5:41am

    Re: Found it

    Wow... its almost like it's a scene straight out of the movie...

    /sarcasm

     

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  8.  
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    Michael, Dec 20th, 2010 @ 5:54am

    Race Car

    "Mark Brill, race car"

    Not that it helped finding an image, but racecar is one word (despite spell check on this site not liking it - perhaps I spelled it backwards).

     

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  9.  
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    Another AC, Dec 20th, 2010 @ 6:07am

    Re: Found it

    OK this idiot is an IMCA Modified Dirt track driver. The car looks nothing like Lightning McQueen. Who, incidentally, looks kind of like a dressed up 'Vette. This dimwit needs to be taken out and caned. Repeatedly!

     

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  10.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 6:15am

    Re: Found it

    The mesh windshield, smashed front end, and dirt track would suggest a different kind of race car then Lightning McQueen. Possibly a demolition derby race car. I don't think he goes for the Piston Cup. Although, I'm not a racing fan, I may be wrong.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2010 @ 6:44am

    Re: Re: McQueen? Hmmm, that name rings a bell

    He was named after Glenn McQueen, a Pixar animator who died in 2002. The number 95 also represents the year of their first big hit, Toy Story.

     

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  12.  
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    Atkray (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 7:17am

    Just wondering

    Maybe he wanted to have a case filed for when he makes it big, then he won't get sued by Pixar for having a car that looks like Lightning McQueen?

     

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  13.  
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    interval (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 7:30am

    Re: Just wondering

    "...he won't get sued by Pixar for having a car that looks like Lightning McQueen?"

    I suppose, although its a stupid pre-emptive suite and his car & the cartoon character look nothing alike.

     

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  14.  
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    Jesse, Dec 20th, 2010 @ 7:38am

    And again....

    Another person who though he/she could get money quick without actually working for it. People are greedy.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2010 @ 8:26am

    Re:

    You don't.

     

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  16.  
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    fairuse (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 11:07am

    Re: Oh, Oklahoma

    I spent time in Norman/OK City. I am shocked that it took 2 courts.
    the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals has upheld a lower court's summary judgment against Brill,
    If he goes to court again then he has more money than brains.

    For my notes: adding "publicity rights" to the category "copyright industry" as a child of it. A delinquent one at that.

     

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  17.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Dec 20th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re:

    That's true. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Eddie Pittman, Dec 21st, 2010 @ 4:13am

    Re: McQueen? Hmmm, that name rings a bell

    Lightening McQueen is an homage to Pixar animator Glenn McQueen who past away in 2002.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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