Monday, November 11, 2013

Factors Etc., Inc. v. Pro Arts, Inc. case brief

Factors Etc., Inc. v. Pro Arts, Inc. case brief summary
579 F.2d 215 (2d Cir. 1978)

Defendants appealed an order from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granting a preliminary injunction restraining defendants from the sale or distribution of merchandise bearing the name or likeness of Elvis Presley.


  • Plaintiffs were the sole and exclusive owners of rights to commercially exploit the name and likeness of Elvis Presley. 
  • The rights were assigned to plaintiff owner prior to decedent's death and then transferred to plaintiff licensee two days after the death. 
  • After decedent's death, defendant published a memorial poster and filed an application for registration of copyright. 
  • Plaintiffs informed defendant of their exclusive rights, but defendant refused to cease distribution. 
  • Plaintiff brought an action for injunctive relief based upon defendant's alleged misappropriation and unauthorized use of decedent's name and likeness. 
  • Defendant appealed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction, arguing that the right of publicity could not survive a celebrity's death. 

The court affirmed and held that decedent assigned a valid property right to plaintiffs. The identification of this exclusive right belonging to plaintiffs as a transferable property right compelled the conclusion that the right survived decedent's death.


The court affirmed the grant of a preliminary injunction against defendant and remanded for further proceedings where plaintiffs' exclusive right to exploit a celebrity decedent's name and likeness, because it was exercised during celebrity's life, survived his death.

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