SW Legal studies in Business

Commercial Painting of Tiger Woods Does Not Violate His Right of Publicity
Description Trial court dismissed a suit brought by Tiger Woods against a commercial artist who sold prints of Woods golfing. The prints are artistic expressions protected by the First Amendment and so do not violate Woods' right of publicity. There is also no trademark infringement since Woods' name does not appear on the print.
Topic Torts
Key Words Right of Publicity; Trademark; Infringement; First Amendment
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts ETW is the exclusive licensing agent of golfer Tiger Woods; his name is trademarked and is registered for use on a wide range of products. Rich Rush, a sports artist, drew a "limited edition" print that features Woods golfing at The Masters golf tournament. ETW sued Rush and Jireh, his publishing company, for violating Woods' common law right of publicity and for trademark infringement.
Decision

Summary judgment for defendant. The print is entitled to First Amendment protection against the claim of a violation of Woods' right of publicity. Rush has a right of artistic expression and it does not matter that his expressions were sold for profit. There is also no trademark infringement because the name Tiger Woods does not appear on the print; the use of a depiction of Tiger Woods does not cause confusion in that the public may think Woods is the source of the product.

Citation ETW Corp. v. Jireh Publishing, Inc., 99 F.Supp. 829 (N.D. Ohio, 2000)

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