Image rights and passing off: Should reputation be enough for celebrities to succeed in English courts?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

While there are no image rights in English law, celebrities typically rely on the tort of passing off to restrain the unauthorized use of their images in a commercial context. However, in 2015, the UK Supreme Court in Starbucks (HK) v Sky ruled that mere reputation is not enough to succeed in an action for passing off and that claimants must show goodwill in the form of customers within the country.

This article critically examines the potential impact that the decision in Starbucks (HK) could have on the ability of celebrities to rely on the tort of passing off in English courts. It highlights some of the criticisms against this decision including suggestions that a distinction should be drawn between commercial traders on the one hand and celebrities on the other hand, with regard to the question of establishing goodwill.

This article contends that both transnational businesses and global celebrities should be required to show goodwill. This will help maintain the balance between the public interest in free competition and the protection of the trader/celebrity against passing off.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberjpz143
Pages (from-to)49-54
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice
Volume15
Issue number1
Early online date5 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • image rights
  • English courts

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