Recognizing rights when a person is the brand

By Shabnam Khan, Lall Lahiri & Salhotra

Personality rights is a colloquial term for the right to publicity. It refers to the right of individuals to control the commercial use of aspects related to their identity. The basis of these rights is that a famous person has a right over their image and reputation, and is entitled to reap the fruits of their labour.

Shabnam Khan Associate Lall Lahiri & Salhotra
Shabnam Khan
Lall Lahiri & Salhotra

The right to publicity can be seen as an extension of intellectual property rights for a commercially marketable image must be viewed as a product created by the famous person through sustained effort in a chosen field. A third party who tries to benefit commercially from a famous person’s reputation without permission or by not adequately compensating the person is guilty of violating that individual’s personality rights.

Among the many unique legal issues affecting famous people, the most important arise from the right to publicity. The term was coined in 1953 in the US by Justice Jerome Frank in Haelen Laboratories v Topps Chewing Gum, one of the first cases that recognized the economic interest of a celebrity in their personality.

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Shabnam Khan is a managing associate at Lall Lahiri & Salhotra, which is an IP boutique based in Gurgaon.


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