Designer Joseph Abboud was recently enjoined from using his name on the labels, hang-tags, or product packaging for his new "jaz" line of clothes. (In 2005, Abboud sold his namesake company and the trademark JOSEPH ABBOUD.) The judge said he could, however, use "Abboud" in advertising and promotional materials as part of a truthful description of his role as the designer of the new line. The judge precluded him from disclosing that he is the designer of the "jaz" line in "an overly intrusive manner," as "an attention-grabbing symbol," or "in a way that is confusing." For instance, "Abboud" cannot be in larger or more distinctive type than the other descriptive copy, and must be part of a complete sentence or descriptive phrase.
Also in recent weeks, the Weatherproof Garment Co. pushed the limits of truth in advertising when it put up a billboard in Times Square depicting President Barack Obama walking along the Great Wall of China in one of the company's coats under the headline, "A Leader in Style." The White House has a longstanding policy of disapproving the use of the president's name for commercial purposes; although he may wear branded clothing in public, that does not give the brand the right to use his name and image in advertising that fact. To do so most likely violates his rights of publicity as well as gives the false impression that he endorses the branded product.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also exploited the image of Michelle Obama in an ad campaign in Washington, D.C. in ads featuring Carrie Underwood, Tyra Banks, and Oprah Winfrey under the headline "Fur-Free and Fabulous." Mrs. Obama had not specifically agreed to the use of her image in this ad, although according to Obama campaign Web sites, she does not wear fur products. The White House reportedly objected to this use, although PETA apparently counters that she is a public figure and they are making a political comment on a matter of public importance.
TIP: Even if celebrities actually use your product, they would likely argue that you don't have the right to use their name and image in commercial advertising without their permission.