California Civil Code Section 3344 states that any person who knowingly uses another’s name, without their consent, for the purposes of selling, advertising, or soliciting, shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or person injured as a result thereof. Under this statute, any action brought under this section shall hold the person who violated the section liable to an amount no less than $750.00, or the actual damages suffered. Actual damages include any profits obtained through the unauthorized use of a person’s name or likeness. Depending on the facts of each case, a court may also impose attorney’s fees and punitive damages on the offender.
Throughout the United States, name and likeness is also protected through the Rights of Privacy laws. Within rights of privacy, there are what is commonly known as “publicity rights”. Publicity rights attach to persons who are famous, or whose name and likeness have value. Rights of publicity prevent the unauthorized commercial use of an individual’s name, likeness, or recognizable aspect of someone’s persona. An individual has the exclusive right to use his or her own identity and one who appropriates for their own benefit the name or likeness of another is subject to liability.