Proactive stance needed to protect IP rights
used by companies without consent.
In addition, the Advertising Standards Authority of SA’s (ASA’s) code of practice provides that a company cannot portray a living celebrity without consent, except in cases where the portrayal doesn’t interfere with the celebrity’s right to privacy and doesn’t amount to unjustified commercial exploitation.
In a famous case, the ASA ruled that an advert by fast-food chain Nando’s, which referred to a former CEO of South African Airways who was, at the time, receiving wide news coverage, did not contravene the code because it was not exploitative. Rather, it was a witty commentary on a public figure and a topical issue.
However, none of these options is guaranteed to succeed, and celebrities should seriously consider getting trademark registrations for their names, photos, likenesses, signatures and possibly even the gestures with which they are associated. Trademarks are registered for particular goods and services, so it is important to choose the right products — obvious candidates would be clothing, cosmetics, jewellery and the like.
To validly register a trademark, the celebrity must have an intention to use it on those goods and services. This intention can take the form of an intention to license third parties.
As their mainstay is their image, celebrities would be advised to take advantage of the numerous options available to protect their IP rights.