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Bowie shoe dispute

September 2020. In the United States, the Jones/Tintoretto Entertainment Company (JTEC), the organisation that manages David Bowie’s rights, is in a dispute with the As If Magazine (AIM). The subject of dispute is a publication about shoes on which pictures of David Bowie are depicted.

Trademark and portrait rights

Recently, an article about the Bowie shoes appeared in AIM. Together with the maker of the Bowie photos, photographer Mick Rock, the magazine offers the shoes in a limited edition. According to JTEC, the magazine thereby infringes Bowie’s trademark and portrait rights.

Rights expired

However, according to AIM, it is not a trademark infringement because the name David Bowie is not at all. And according to AIM, any portrait rights or publicity rights of Bowie are also out of the question. Unlike JTEC, the magazine believes Bowie’s portrait rights expired in 2016, the year the singer died.

Promotion of the Bowie shoe on the website of As If Magazine (AIM)

Wind out of the sails

To take the wind out of JTEC’s sails, AIM decided to go to court itself in August. The magazine now asks the court to declare that these shoes do not violate JTEC’s rights. The case will soon be heard.

Portrait right

Suppose such a case were to occur in the Netherlands. How would this work regarding portrait rights? Can you transfer portrait rights, which are free personal rights, to someone else? And what happens to portrait rights when someone dies? In the next newsflash, we will dive a little deeper into portrait rights after death.

Bas Kist