Can a business use my name without permission to help sell their products?

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Can a business use my name without permission to help sell their products?

I run a diet program, similar to the Dr. Atkins diet. Using the Atkins example, could a company that sells diet foods, post signs in their stores saying that their products are “suitable for the Dr. Atkins diet” or “Dr. Atkins – Phase 1 suitable”, without his consent? Can they “decorate” their store to look like an “official” Dr. Atkins retail store by extensive use of the name “Dr. Atkins” or “Atkins diet” without permission? We have our own retail stores and want to block other companies from using our diet name to advertise their own products.

Asked on July 13, 2011 under Business Law, Indiana

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Invasion of privacy includes appropriation of one's name or likeness for commercial purposes without  consent.  If another store used your name or you used Atkins' name or likeness for commercial purposes without consent, there would be liability for invasion of privacy.

In addition to invasion of privacy, decorating a store to look like Atkins would also subject one to liability for trademark infringement.


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