Basic Training: U is for Using Celebrities in Your Business Idea

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq.

Nina L. Kaufman, Esq., owner of Ask The Business Lawyer, is an award-winning business attorney, speaker, and Entrepreneur Magazine online contributor. She saves consulting and professional services companies time, money, and aggravation by serving as their outsourced legal counsel.

Posted on July 4, 2014 in IP & Social Media

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Today’s query has to do with celebrities. Dabnabbit!–why don’t they return my calls?

Q.: I sent two celebrities a business idea for a website. I never heard a response from them or their companies. Should I continue to write them or find other interested parties?

A.: Without knowing the business idea or which celebrities you contacted, I can think of several reasons they didn’t respond:

  • They didn’t like your idea.
  • They didn’t like how you proposed they be involved in the project.
  • They began implementing the idea you suggested well before you contacted them.
  • They’re too busy to be bothered

Under various state laws, celebrities have the right to control how their image and likeness are used. It’s called the “right of publicity.” One can assume you didn’t pick these particular celebrities because they were your closest friends since childhood. No–you wanted to trade off their publicity machine, their influence and their “power of attraction.” So they may not be interested. After all, you’re probably not the first person to approach them with a business opportunity.

People have no obligation to respond to an unsolicited offer, proposal or manuscript. But they may not want to take the risk of acknowledging your idea, in case it’s close to something they already have in the works . . . and the last thing they need is a lawsuit claiming they infringed your intellectual property rights, no matter how specious the lawsuit is.

Unless you have a way to get past the “gatekeeper” (such as through a personal connection to the celebrity’s business manager, accountant, attorney or sister), continually sending letters probably won’t get you far. Either find a way to be a closer “”degree of separation,” or try someone else.

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