Bloomberg News

Burberry Drops Lawsuit Against Humphrey Bogart Heirs

August 01, 2012

Burberry Group Plc (BRBY), the U.K.’s largest luxury-goods company, dropped a U.S. lawsuit against Humphrey Bogart’s heirs defending its display of the late actor’s image in its advertising.

Burberry in May asked a federal court in Manhattan to declare that its use of Bogart’s name and photo didn’t infringe Bogart LLC’s trademark and publicity rights. London-based Burberry uses an image from the film “Casablanca” of Bogart wearing one of its trench coats.

Burberry said it used the image, licensed from photo provider Corbis, to show the historical influence of the brand, not to sell merchandise. Under the dismissal, the case can’t be refilled.

Bogart LLC, mostly owned by Bogart’s children, responded to the company’s lawsuit, also in May, by filing a trademark- infringement suit in state court in California.

Bogart LLC claimed that Burberry “designed, manufactured, and sold numerous apparel and accessory products” as well as created marketing materials making use of its intellectual property.

Burberry’s use of the actor’s photo gave the public the false impression that Bogart endorsed the company’s coats, the heirs argued.

Money Damages

Bogart LLC sought money damages, including punitive damages, and an injunction to keep Burberry from using Bogart’s name or image. They estimated one claim alone would be for at least $1 million, while giving no estimate of the total damages they would seek.

The state lawsuit alleged misappropriation of publicity rights, trademark infringement, unjust enrichment and other damages outside a formal contract.

Evan Glassman, a lawyer for Burberry, and Paul Stevens, a lawyer for Bogart LLC, didn’t immediately respond to voice-mail messages seeking comment on the dismissal.

The federal case is Burberry Ltd. v. Bogart LLC, 12-3491, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The state case is Bogart LLC v. Burberry Group, BC483967, Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Grannis in New York at egrannis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Dunn at adunn8@bloomberg.net


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