San Diego – With the controversial murder trial behind her, Casey Anthony may now be headed for another legal battle with her parents over the rights to the Caylee Anthony trademark. On May 17, 2011, the attorney for George and Cindy Anthony, Casey’s parents, filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the trademark “Caylee Anthony.” The application is said to be in response to online merchandise-peddler, Cafepress.com, selling t-shirts with the deceased child’s image and the expression, “Justice for Caylee.”
“This website is an affront to the memory of Caylee Anthony and the family will not tolerate the malicious production of her name in any format,” the Anthonys’ attorney stated in a cease and desist letter to Café Press. The attorney listed his firm as the applicant/owner of “Caylee Anthony” in class 25 for t-shirts. The same day the letter was sent, the Anthony attorney also filed an application for the trademark “Justice for Caylee” in the classes for t-shirts, stickers, and buttons.
With the nation’s outrage over the verdict in the Anthony trial, media outlets, book publishers, and movie studios will likely look to release products related to the story. That raises the question of who really should have the rights to the trademarks? Casey, after all, is the girl’s biological mother, and she has been acquitted of the charges despite the unusual circumstances that had all fingers pointed at her. George and Cindy Anthony most likely are only interested in keeping others from profiting over their granddaughter’s death. Casey, however, may see this as an opportunity to get her side of the story published, however strange it may be.
If Casey does decide to pursue this and challenge her parent’s in trademark court, it appears that the law may be on her side. Many states have laws stating that no person shall publish, print, display, or otherwise publicly use for purposes of trade or for any commercial or advertising purpose the name, portrait, photograph, or other likeness of any natural person without the express consent of that person. In the case of a deceased person, such authorization must come from anyone from a class consisting of immediate surviving family members, including parents, spouses, and children.