For those in Woodland Hills who have been asked to serve as the executor or personal representative of a family member or friend’s estate, their responsibilities may go beyond simply ensuring that the estate is processed and dispersed correctly. If the assets include items of artistic value or intellectual property, they may also need to ensure that the any copyright protections covering those items are respected (as such property may add an estate’s overall value). If those rights appear to be infringed in any way, then it may be left up to the one charged with administering the estate to pursue the proper legal recourse.
The administrator of the estate for a popular late American artist has seemingly been forced into seeking such action against the fast-food giant McDonald’s. The woman (who was also the late artist’s girlfriend) has filed a lawsuit claiming that McDonalds’s had begun to display his artwork in several of its restaurants without first seeking the approval of his estate. She claims to have asked the company to stop this alleged infringement back in June, yet to no avail. Such use is being viewed as particularly unsettling by the woman given that the artist was known during his life for avoiding associating commercialism with his work.
Copyrighted art in any form may be subject to the same ownership restrictions as any other type of property. Like other assets, their value may also increase over time. Any unauthorized use could potentially impact that value, which is why such infringements are typically acted upon so quickly. Those needing to put a stop to the unauthorized use of any artistic or intellectual property of an estate that they are party to may be wise to first seek the assistance of an attorney.
Source: Fox News “McDonald’s sued by late artist’s estate for copyright infringement” Oct. 06, 2016