“Bogie’s” Burberry at the center of heirs’ court action

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

The disheveled trench coat actor Humphrey Bogart wore in the fog-clouded last scenes of the 1942 movie “Casablanca” was made by the fashion company Burberry, based in England. Burberry recently created a social media website depicting the actor using a still photograph from the film, which may put the coat manufacturer in court.

Burberry wants a federal court to approve of the company’s use of the trench-coat image in an online timeline. The late actor’s heirs, who include Bogart’s children and actress Lauren Bacall, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Burberry the same day.

The maker of the Bogart Burberry coat claims it has done no wrong. The coat maker apparently licensed the image it used from a photo agency. The clothing manufacturer stated it did not impinge on the rights or publicity rights of the Bogart Corporation and did not use the image to promote the sale of merchandise.

Bogart’s corporation and family disagreed, saying Burberry purposely used the late actor’s name and “Casablanca” image to enhance its own place in the fashion marketplace.

Burberry contends that Bogart Corp. is in the wrong and is trying to “exert and assert” intellectual property rights it does not own. Bogart apparently contacted Burberry multiple times last month to force the company to stop using the image and eventually ordered Burberry to pay for the photo’s use.

Burberry officials asked a federal judge to agree that the use of the Bogart photo in a timeline, rather than a sales pitch, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The son of the actor called Burberry’s court action “disrespectful.” He likened the use of Bogart’s picture on the Burberry website to that of a cigarette maker trying to capitalize on the kind of cigarette Bogart smoked.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Bogart heirs and Burberry at odds over trench coat image,” May 4, 2012