Former supermodel Tyra Banks is reportedly suing 10 companies for making wigs inspired by her ever changing hairstyles. She claims that the companies are using her trademarks and her image, namely ”name, photograph, image, and identity” without permission. Banks is seeking an injunction on the companies selling the wigs in addition to $10 million in damages. Among the offending products are the Tyra Banks-inspired human hair wig and the Tyra Banks lace wig (pictured).
To back up her claim, Banks cites just how famous she is and how valuable her trademark is. She attaches a copy of her detailed 11 page IMDB profile to the lawsuit as exhibit A - presumably evidence in case the judge didn’t know exactly who she is.
To be fair to Banks, the companies in question are showing a flagrant disregard for intellectual property laws and we can’t possibly imagine what kind of defence they could present. Tyra Banks holds the trademark for ‘Tyra Banks’ and using it to sell wigs is an obvious infringement. What’s more, California have strong publicity rights - laws protecting the commercial use of one’s image. The right has been recognised in a number of US states since the 1950′s and is mostly invoked by celebrities who find their likeness used to promote goods and services without their permission.
As regular Wigs and Gowns readers will know, the right doesn’t exist in England or Ireland and celebrities must instead make use of alternative legal doctrines when seeking to protect their image on this side of the pond. But as we saw with Rihanna’s latest battle with Topshop, the courts are growing dangerously close to creating such a right! We’re awaiting the appeal with baited breath and will report back!
Stay tuned to Wigs and Gowns for updates on Wigs and Banks!