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Elvis Presley International Memorial Foundation v. Presley Memorial Foundation Case Brief

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					Elvis Presley International Memorial Foundation v. Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation 733 S.W.2d 89 (1987)
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EPIMF and EPMF were both nonprofit corporations dedicated to selling Elvis paraphernalia. EPIMF sued EPMF for unfair competition, to prevent it from using the name "Elvis Presley." Elvis Presley's estate came to the defense of EPMF, claiming that they had given the right for EPMF to use the name and had not given the right to EPIMF. The Trial Court found for EPMF in summary judgment. EPIMF appealed. o EPMF argued that Elvis Presley's name and image are descendible.  Descendible means that the property (here the right to use his likeness) is inherited by his heirs after death.  The right to control one's likeness is called a right of publicity. o EPIMF argued that Elvis Presley's image entered the public domain after his death. The Appellate Court affirmed. o The Appellate Court found that, under Tennessee law, a person's right of publicity is descendible property. o The Appellate Court recognized that a celebrity's right to publicity can be possessed, used, subject to a contract, sold, or assigned. It is unquestionably an intangible personal property with economic value. o The Appellate Court suggest many reasons for why the right to publicity is descendible:  If it's a property right in life it must be a property right in death.  Otherwise it would allow "one man to reap what another has sown."  A celebrity operates with the expectation that he is leaving a valuable asset for his heirs.  The value of contacts to use a celebrity's likeness would lose value if their likeness

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entered the public domain upon death. It prevents manufacturers from deceptively claiming a dead celebrity endorsed their product. The concept of the right of publicity is a relatively recent offshoot of the right to privacy. o See (Zacchini v. Scripts-Howard Broadcasting Co. (433 U.S. 562 (1977))
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