Monday, January 6, 2014

Elvis Presley Int’l Memorial Foundation v. Crowell case brief

Elvis Presley Int’l Memorial Foundation v. Crowell case brief summary
733 S.W.2d 89 (1987)

Plaintiff appealed from the Chancery Court of Davidson County, Tennessee at Nashville, which had entered an order for summary judgment for defendant where the right to publicity was held descendible at death under Tennessee law.

Plaintiff and defendant were nonprofit corporations. Plaintiff filed an unfair competition action to dissolve defendant and prevent it from using the celebrity's name. The celebrity's estate intervened on behalf of defendant, asserting it had given defendant permission to use celebrity's name and had not given similar permission to plaintiff. Summary judgment was granted to defendant, and plaintiff appealed.


  • The court determined that the celebrity's right to control his name descended to his estate at death and that the celebrity's estate had the right to control commercial exploitation of the celebrity's name and image. 
  • The court recognized the right to publicity was descendible at death. 
  • However, due to laches in filing the claim, the motion for summary judgment was vacated.

The lower court decision granting summary judgment was vacated and the case remanded where right of publicity was descendible under Tennessee law but the action was vacated on the ground of laches.

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