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Brando Estate Sued Over Likeness Rights For Madonna Tour

October 1, 2012,

concert.jpgCalifornia - Celebrity licensing company CMG Worldwide Inc. hit the estate of actor Marlon Brando and a rival licensing agency with a lawsuit seeking to enforce its rights to use Brando's likeness as stage dressing for the concerts on Madonna's 2012 world tour.
In its complaint, originally filed in Indiana state court in August and removed to federal court last week, CMG is seeking a declaration that a valid, enforceable contract between the parties exists. It also wants an order enforcing that contract by enjoining the estate and Brand Sense Partners LLC from bringing any lawsuits against CMG or Madonna in connection with the use of Brando's likeness under the contract.

CMG acts as agent and representative for internationally recognized celebrities as diverse as James Dean, Pamela Anderson and Jackie Robinson. In addition to its celebrity and brand licensing agency activities, CMG sometimes also acts as a clearance agent to help obtain permission to use trademarks, likenesses, rights of publicity and endorsements from heirs and estates of deceased celebrities not represented by CMG, it says.

In February CMG and the estate entered into a license agreement allowing Madonna to use Brando's likeness during the Superbowl halftime show that month for a fee of $3,750.

In May Madonna's tour company Bhakti Touring Inc. contacted CMG seeking assistance in clearing the Brando rights along with 10 other deceased celebrities, including James Dean, Jean Harlow, Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis, Lana Turner, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Gene Kelly, Grace Kelly and Joe DiMaggio, all of whom are featured in Madonna's 1990 song "Vogue."

For another payment of $3,750, the estate was supposed to grant the touring company the right to use Brando's image as set dressing during the live performances of "Vogue" on tour. Later in May, the estate increased the fee to $5,000.

By the end of the month, though, BSP and the estate began demanding $20,000 for the use of Brando's rights of publicity, in direct contravention to the terms of the agreement made earlier in May, CMG says.

"BSP and Brando's attempted repudiation of the permission agreement for the use of Brando [rights of publicity] by Madonna on her worldwide tour is detrimental to CMG," the complaint says.

"Absent a declaration that there is a valid and enforceable contract between Bhakti by its agent CMG and Brando by its authorized agent BSP and in light of the most favored nations status of the use of the rights of publicity of the other 10 deceased personalities, CMG will be materially and irreparably harmed," it says.

Military Revokes Approval For Use Of Trademarks On Bibles

June 13, 2012,

bible.jpgCalifornia - The U.S. Military has recently revoked its authorization for use of military trademarks on bibles. In a statement, Navy officials reported that its trademark licensing division underwent a complete revamping in 2011. After reviewing all of its existing trademark agreements, it determined that the use of Navy trademarks on bibles did not meet the new standards. As a result, LifeWay, the company who publishes the military bibles, was notified that its trademark agreement would not be renewed. The Air Force Trademark Licensing Program claims it also withdrew its approval for trademark use in 2011. The Air Force did not allow for the depletion of existing stock, but specified that all copies must be immediately removed. Army and Marine Corps officials made no official comment, but its approvals were also withdrawn.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is claiming responsibility for the recent decision regarding the bibles. MRFF claims that it asked for removal of the bibles after receiving over 2000 separate complaints from military personnel. MRFF argues that sanctioning these bibles was a direct conflict with the United States Constitution, as well as a violation of Department of Defense regulations. According to military policy, endorsement of any non-federal entity is strictly prohibited. With that policy in mind, use of military trademarks on the covers of these bibles made the Holman Christian Bible appear as though it was the official bible of the U.S. Military. Because of the current U.S. conflict with fundamentalist Muslims in the Middle East, MRFF also claims that use of the military logos creates a security threat. MRFF insists that the conflict is a cosmic war between Jesus and Allah, and thus military endorsement of bibles is a national security issue.

Despite MRFF claims, the Department of Defense claims that removal of the bibles was strictly the result of a re-evaluation of trademark agreements and policies. However, some religious groups are calling this recent decision a cowardly move. These groups argue that military personnel from as far back as George Washington have used the bible and other religious texts for encouragement and counsel. They are calling removal of the military bibles a "reckless assault on religious liberty" and are demanding a congressional investigation.

The military-themed bibles are a product of B&H Publishing, owned by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Lifeway publishes four versions of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, one each for the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. Covers for each specific branch of the military include the name and insignia for each specific branch. The bibles reportedly offer devotional material and prayers for military personnel. LifeWay told Fox News Radio that it received authorization to use the official U.S. Military trademarks in 2003. However, it received notice last year that the authorization was being withdrawn. After selling existing copies, B&H replaced the official insignias with generic ones which it claims continue to sell well.

S.C. Johnson & Son Enters into Trademark License for Ziploc Products

December 16, 2011,

plastic-bag-ziploc.jpgCalifornia - S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. (SC Johnson) announced today that it has entered into a Trademark Licensing Agreement with CTI Industries Corporation, a manufacturer and marketer of packaging and storage bags and pouches, metalized balloons, latex balloons, novelty gift items, and printed laminated items. Under the trademark agreement, CTI will be licensed to manufacture and sell a line of vacuum sealing machines and pouches under the Ziploc brand and trademark.

One of the top manufacturers and marketers of metalized and latex balloons, CTI Industries develops, produces, and markets bags and pouches for storage and packaging purposes and makes laminated and printed films for commercial applications. CTI distributes its product lines throughout the United States as well as in other countries. CTI was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Lake Barrington, Illinois.

The licensed Ziploc product line under the agreement will include vacuum sealing machines manufactured solely for CTI and plastic pouches for use to electronically seal the air out of food items. The products will be sold in a number of large retail outlets across the country.

Founded in 1886 as a parquet flooring company, in addition to Ziploc, SC Johnson manufactures and markets other household brands such as Saran, Pledge, Scrubbing Bubbles, Windex, Shout, Raid, and Off!. In the past, SC Johnson has negotiated many patent and trademark licensing agreements with manufacturers and distributors of household products.

In 2001, SC Johnson created an environmental classification system called the "Greenlist" to change the way it measures, tracks, and improves its products, with its commitment to environmental responsibility the primary goal. SC Johnson has shared its "Greenlist" process with the United States EPA, China's Ministry of Environmental Protection, Environment Canada, industry associations, universities, and corporations and these entities partner with suppliers to identify and develop ingredients that are more environmentally sustainable. Currently, SC Johnson has a licensing agreement with Five Winds International to make the "Greenlist" system available to other companies royalty-free, provided they comply with Five Winds' terms.