Charlie Sheen merchandise clampdown has begun
By Eriq Gardner
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Now that Charlie Sheen is going on tour and selling merchandise bearing his famous slogans, his reps are clamping down on vendors selling goods that trade off the much-followed Sheen saga.
FEA Merchandising, a subsidiary of Live Nation, has been busy in the past 48 hours, sending takedown notices and cease-and-desist letters in an attempt to own the exclusive market on Charlie Sheen merchandise. In the process, the company has stepped on the toes of a woman's rights group protesting the Sheen saga with a charitable endeavor.
As we reported Thursday, a number of companies and individuals have already beaten Sheen to the trademark office, registering such catch-phrases as "winning," "tiger blood," and "Adonis DNA." Without a firm trademark stake over these marks, FEA has been exploiting a different protection maneuver -- claiming that products that bear Sheen's words violate his publicity rights.
For example, Kate Durkin says she was horrified by the reception that Charlie Sheen has been receiving in the media and among people on Twitter. So she, along with several others, set up an organization called Unfollow Charlie, intending to sell the t-shirt design bearing that slogan and donating the proceeds to the charity RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network).
After setting up shop at Zazzle.com, an online retailer that allows users to upload images and create their own merchandise, Durkin was notified that the design would be taken down as the result of infringement. She got an e-mail that stated:
"Unfortunately, your product was removed because it featured a design that does not meet Zazzle Acceptable Content Guidelines. Specifically, your product contained content that violates Charlie Sheen's rights of celebrity/publicity. Charlie Sheen's name and likeness are protected by rights of celebrity/publicity and may not be used on Zazzle products without permission."
Durkin followed up, questioning whether her product was removed because her group was critical of Sheen's following.
FEA doesn't seem overly concerned with Sheen's image, however, as much as attempting to lock down the market. Continued...