This is interesting for a bunch of reasons. The San Francisco Forty-Niners sue a nightclub near its stadium, that promotes events that refer to the Niners or its players. See Exhibits Q, R and S in the second document below for ads the club distributes to promote, for example, birthday parties ‘in honor of’ specific Niner players, with photos of the player wearing his Niner uniform. Of particular interest is the Niners’ invocation of its unusual 3-D trademark registrations in its uniforms (see Exhibit J through M).
One fact that isn’t clear (to me) from the pleading is whether the nightclub had the consent of the player whose birthday it was allegedly celebrating. And its not clear if the players showed up for their party.
There was a recent case that stands for the proposition that you can’t end-run a false endorsement cause by claiming that you were exercising your First Amendment rights by ‘foisting’ some kinds words on the celebrity (Michael Jordan prevailed against a drugstore that ‘congratulated’ him on being inducted into the Hall of Fame (in a full-page ad that featured all sort of MJ indicia)). So if the players didn’t authorize, there may be an action there as well.
p.s. There’s also a straight-forward copyright claim, as the nightclub appears to have used Niner photographs without authorization.
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