Burberry Defends Right To Use Humphrey Bogart Image In Facebook Timeline

British fashion brand Burberry is catching heat over its use of a photo on its timeline page, since removed, of late actor Humphrey Bogart wearing a Burberry trench coat in 1942 Academy Award-winning film Casablanca.

First, Pasadena, Calif.-based Bogart LLC requested that Burberry cease use of the photo, followed by a threat to sue for violation of Bogart’s publicity and trademark right, paidContent reported.

Then yesterday, in response to the possible suit, Burberry filed a complaint in New York (embedded below), requesting that a federal court rule that the posted photo does not infringe trademark or publicity rights belonging to Bogart LLC.

According to the complaint, the photo was paid for, and licensed from stock-photography supplier Corbis Images. Further, Burberry said the image was not being used to sell merchandise, but rather to illustrate the reach of the brand, adding that its use of the photo on its Facebook timeline is protected under the First Amendment.

Laws vary by state, but in New York, image rights do not survive a person’s death. Bogart passed away in 1957.

Burberry’s Facebook page had nearly 12.7 million likes at the time of this post.

Readers: Do you have confusion about photo permissions when posting to Facebook? Have you found good resources to answer related questions?

Burberry v Bogart

Related Stories
Mediabistro Course

Blogging: Analytics, SEO, and Content

Blogging: Analytics, SEO, and ContentWork with the former marketing director at Conde Nast Digital to improve your search rankings, integrate social, and increase traffic to your blog! Starting November 5, Jim Hopkinson will teach you how to analyze KPIs, monetize your blog through ads, sponsorships, and affiliates, and leverage your blog toward a larger platform such as publishing, speaking, or consulting. Register now!