Better to be Absolutely Ridiculous Than Absolutely Generic: The Estate of Marilyn Monroe’s Trademark Woes

Picture1By Gwen Wei

On Monday, March 13 2017, a ruling in the Southern District of New York threw trademark practitioners nationwide into a tumult when the presiding judge left open the possibility that a celebrity name could become too generic to enforce as a trademark. The issue: the court’s “serious doubts that V. International will be able to establish that the contested marks are generic”, pitted against its concern that “[r]eaching that conclusion at this state would be premature.”  The celebrity hanging in the balance: Marilyn Monroe. Continue reading

Sorry, that isn’t actually Scarlett Johansson.


By Beth St. Clair

 What would you do if someone built a robot version of you?

 It happened to Scarlett Johansson. A graphic designer from Hong Kong spent over a year, and $50,000, to build a robot in her likeness. While the robot’s abilities are limited, it can respond to compliments and questions, laugh, bow, and blink its eyes. Most notable, however, is the fact that the designer used 3D-printing technology and silicone to make the robot look exactly like Johansson.

For some, the coquettish machine represents an objectification of women, “an utterly disappointing reflection of the way women are portrayed in society.” For others, it is an extreme example of fandom.

But because the programming and machinery needed to make very advanced robots are now so widely available that a person can create one at her own house, we will see more celeb-bots in the future. Those robots, especially female celebrity-inspired robots equipped with realistic features and the ability to mimic life-like movement, will continue to be controversial.

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