Sometimes, all it takes to cross the legal Hollywood licensing line is a tweet or Facebook post.
After Burberry crowed on social media about the late actor Humphrey Bogart having worn one of its trenchcoats in the final scene of Casablanca, Bogart LLC filed suit Wednesday. The estate of the iconic actor said it never gave permission to Burberry to use a Bogart still in such a manner. From the press release:
“This is such an incredibly disappointing and disrespectful action by Burberry,” said Stephen Bogart, son of the Hollywood legend. “Apparently they believe a shoe company can advertise the fact that Brad Pitt wore its brand while jogging down the street, or a beverage company can claim George Clooney drank its product in one of his movies – all without even asking, much less obtaining, the actors’ permission. Wouldn’t that be a nice, clever way to get Hollywood icons to endorse or advertise products without paying compensation or, more importantly, obtaining permission?”
Expect this one to be quickly and quietly settled. Or, to paraphrase a famous line from the Morocco tarmac: the only way this can be the beginning of a beautiful social media friendship is if Burberry coughs up a proper amount of retro-active compensation.