This case brings to the forefront the rights a celebrity has to his or her name, image, and likeness. In general, everyone has the exclusive right to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness or other unequivocal aspects of one’s identity. Courts have upheld this right in cases far more tenuous than Kim Kardashian’s claim. For example, Vanna White successfully sued Samsung Electronics in 1993 over its use, during a humorous ad, of a blond robot turning letters on a game show. Likewise, Bette Midler successfully sued Ford Motors for using a sound-alike singer in an advertisement. Even Jacqueline Kennedy retained an injunction against Christian Dior for using a look-alike.
This case will turn on whether Old Navy knowingly attempted to exploit Kardashian’s public persona by hiring a look-alike. This is a factual matter for the jury to determine and will depend on what evidence Kardashian’s attorneys can present to show that Old Navy actually considered Kardashian when devising the campaign—should be an interesting one to follow and although we can’t predict an outcome, we can be certain of one thing, this case will get plenty of publicity!