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Julie Garber

Humphrey Bogart's Estate and Luxury Clothing Brand Burberry Locked in Legal Battle

By May 8, 2012

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Last week the estate of Humphrey Bogart sued British luxury clothing brand Burberry over its use of a photograph of the actor from the final scene of the movie, Casablanca, on Facebook and Twitter. According to the estate's lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Burberry used the Casablanca photograph in which Bogie is sporting a classic Burberry trench coat without the estate's permission. According to Burberry's counter-suit filed in New York, the picture was used as part of a "timeline" showing the history of the company, which was founded in 1856, in order to depict the development of its "culture, products and people" over the years, and not for the sale of any particular merchandise.

When questioned about the lawsuit, Humphrey Bogart's son, Stephen Bogart, stated: "This is such an incredibly disappointing and disrespectful action by Burberry. Apparently they believe a shoe company can advertise the fact that Brad Pitt wore its brand while jogging down the street, or a beverage company can claim George Clooney drank its product in one of his movies -- all without even asking, much less obtaining, the actors' permission. Wouldn't that be a nice, clever way to get Hollywood icons to endorse or advertise products without paying compensation or, more importantly, obtaining permission?" He ended by asking, "What's next, a cigarette company can start an advertising program claiming Bogie smoked its brand, and there's nothing our family can do about it?" Advertising or not? The courts will have to sort it out.

Meanwhile, it was also revealed last week that the vessel used during the filming of the 1951 film African Queen, the movie for which Humphrey Bogart won his only best actor Oscar, has been saved from the junkyard. Late last year a Florida couple, Suzanne and Lance Holmquist, found the vessel rotting away at a Florida marina and decided to restore it. After six months of repairs costing $60,000, the Holmquists have the vessel back on the water and are taking passengers on river cruises in Key Largo, Florida. Since being put back in the water, Stephen Bogart has visited the Holmquists and given the restored vessel his stamp of approval.

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