The estate of Humphrey Bogart is suing British-based clothes company Burberry over use of the Hollywood icon’s name in what it said was an advertising campaign. But Burberry has filed a countersuit, insisting it did not breach Bogart’s rights by using a photo of Bogart wearing one of its trenchcoats in the movie “Casablanca,” and seeking damages from the actor’s estate.
The Bogart Estate filed its action in Los Angeles, saying Burberry used the trench coat picture from the final scene of Oscar-winning 1942 classic “Casablanca,” on Twitter and Facebook, without its permission.
“Just as Burberry needed to obtain (Harry Potter actress) Emma Watson’s consent before using her name and image to promote Burberry’s brand and products, it needed to obtain permission from the Bogart Estate to use Humphrey Bogart’s name,” said lawyer Michael O. Crain.
“Burberry’s business hinges on respect for its own intellectual property rights, so it is quite surprising to see that it apparently has so little respect for the clear rights of others.”
But Burberry counter-sued in New York, saying the photo was licensed from photo agency Corbis for editorial use. It said Burberry first contacted it about the issue on April 10.
Burberry said the image was used in the context of a historic “timeline” of the British company, used on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, showing the development of its “culture, products and people” over the decades.
“Burberry’s use of this photo and description were intended to reflect on the long history, significance and influence of Burberry fashion in society,” said the Burberry lawsuit.
“Burberry’s use of the image… was not directly connected to the sale of any merchandise, but rather was a historical positioning of the image within an educational project along with numerous other photographs…”
Stephen Bogart, son of the Hollywood legend, was not convinced, saying: “This is such an incredibly disappointing and disrespectful action by Burberry.
“Apparently they believe a shoe company can advertise the fact that Brad Pitt wore its brand while jogging down the street, or a beverage company can claim George Clooney drank its product in one of his movies — all without even asking, much less obtaining, the actors’ permission.
“Wouldn’t that be a nice, clever way to get Hollywood icons to endorse or advertise products without paying compensation or, more importantly, obtaining permission?
He added: “What’s next, a cigarette company can start an advertising program claiming Bogie smoked its brand, and there’s nothing our family can do about it?”
Bogart, who also starred in films including 1941′s “The Maltese Falcon” and 1951′s “The African Queen,” died in 1957 aged 57.