In early 2012, Burberry launched a historical timeline on Facebook depicting the evolution of Burberry's culture, products and people. Burberry's timeline included an image of Humphrey Bogart from 1942 wearing a Burberry trench coat in the final scene of the motion picture, "Casablanca," and included the description: Humphrey Bogart wearing a Burberry trench coat in the final scene of Casablanca (1942). According to the complaint, Burberry licensed this image of Humphrey Bogart from Corbis for editorial use, and asserts that the use was a historical positioning of the image within an educational project via a timeline of people wearing Burberry apparel over the last century. In April 2012, Bogart LLC, the entity which exclusively owns and controls the name and likeness of Humphrey Bogart and numerous trademarks related to Humphrey Bogart, allegedly contacted Burberry. Bogart LLC claimed that Burberry's use of the photo implies an endorsement by or affiliation with Humphrey Bogart and Bogart LLC, and constitutes misappropriation, false association and dilution of Bogart LLC's intellectual property rights. According to the complaint, Bogart LLC demanded that Burberry stop using the photo, and made a monetary demand. Burberry then filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment from the court that Burberry's use does not infringe Bogart LLC's trademark rights or its rights to Bogart's image and likeness.
TIP: Use of a person's name or likeness on a commercial website or a company's social media pages, even in a "historical" or educational context, may put an advertiser at risk for a complaint alleging a violation of that person's publicity rights. This case should be followed closely to see if this court recognizes a distinction between commercial and historical use of a person's name and likeness.