Image rights, false endorsement and merchandising
Produced in partnership with CMS
Image rights, false endorsement and merchandising

The following IP guidance note Produced in partnership with CMS provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Image rights, false endorsement and merchandising
  • Registered trade marks
  • Passing off
  • Copyright and associated rights
  • Defamation and malicious falsehood
  • Confidentiality, privacy and data protection
  • Committee of Advertising Practice Codes (CAP and BCAP Codes)
  • Registered image rights in Guernsey

This Practice Note sets out the areas of law relevant to the related issues of image rights, false endorsement and merchandising. Currently, there is no single law of 'image rights' in the UK. Image rights (or personality rights) encompass name, likeness, voice and any other personal features or indications relating to a person, who may be living or deceased. 'Character merchandising' usually refers to the use of fictional characters. The following legal and regulatory issues are relevant:

  1. registered trade marks

  2. passing off

  3. copyright and moral rights

  4. defamation and malicious falsehood

  5. confidentiality, privacy and data protection

  6. Committee of Advertising Practice Codes (CAP and BCAP Codes)

Registered trade marks

Individuals (living or deceased) may be the subject of trade mark registrations which protect against the use by third parties of their names, likenesses or logos. The Trade Marks Act 1994 (TMA 1994) governs UK national applications and Regulation (EC) 2017/1001 governs EU trade mark (EUTM) registrations.

However, famous names are not capable of protection in all circumstances. The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has refused registrations for 'mere image carriers' such as posters, photographs and other similar goods, on the grounds that the public does not necessarily believe all goods bearing a name or image to emanate from one 'official' source. Registrations have been allowed for other goods such as keyrings, DVDs and