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Thomas Swartz
Thomas Swartz, Lawyer
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 3171
Experience:  Twenty one years experience as a lawyer in New York and New Jersey. Former Appellate Law Clerk.
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I want to start manufacturing a moustache soon called the busstache.

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I want to start manufacturing a moustache soon called the busstache. It is an item for the end of the Lakers season and playoffs. Jerry Buss passed this season and it will be in commemoration for him and so everyone remembers what this season is being played for. On the packaging I want to have his face with the moustache where it would be on his face. I also want to have the package be purple with busstache written in the lakers lettering. How can I achieve this or is there another better route to take so I dont run into legal issues with the Lakers

You would need to approach the family or estate of Mr. Buss. Unfortunately, you cannot use a person's name or likeness without their permission for commercial purposes. To do so would violate what is know as a person's right to publicity. This applies to deceased persons as well. And there is a specific California law which addresses this which is California Civil Code § 3344.1. I am sure you are well meaning in your project, but you don't want to have the possibility of Mr. Buss' estate coming after you with a lawsuit. So you must get permission from his estate.

In addition, if you intend to use any Laker's logos or trademarks, you would also need to seek the permission of the Lakers.

Sorry, if this puts a damper on your project, but getting permission in this instance is really a necessity.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If I were to not put his face on it or use lakers lettering would this get me out of the hot water? What are my options?

Yes, it probably would. However, you would still be using the name Buss in "busstache." And since Mr. Buss was apparently famous for his mustache, and you would be marketing the product at Laker's games etc. there is small chance that the family still might complain that you are using the "Buss" name for your commercial purposes. So, I would still recommend that you seek permission from his family or estate. In giving my answers I can only give you the possibilities of what might happen. Since there is a chance that the family might complain, and if you want to avoid that, it is recommended that you ask for permission.

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