I own a small ecommerce website where I sell some items bearing the names of very famous people from the past, like Michael jackson, muhamad ali, marilyn monroe, etc, can I get in trouble for doing that? A corporation recently contacted me regarding using the name of Frida Khalo on my site, she is a famous mexican painter, a very inspirational figure, she has been dead since 1954, they ask me to remove all mentions of her name from my site, what should I do?

Excerpt of the email below:


To whom it may concern,

............... Corporation objects the sale on ............. of the products bearing the image and name of the Mexican painter ............., as shown on the site ............... The product is advertised and sold as ................

............. Corporation owns several registrations worldwide for the ................ mark including registrations with covers the products sold on your website

Based upon our investigation it appears that your company is indeed infringing upon ......... trademark(s) and/or used or is using a confusingly similar trade name for the sale of your items under the brand name ........... ............’s valuable good will and business reputation has now been tarnished by your actions. Therefore, we urge you to immediately discontinue bearing the .................... trademark(s) to avoid further damages.

We expect a written reply from you with in five (5) days from this email. If you or your company does not respond or act as requested, we will asume that you are not interested in resolving this controversy amicably and we will act accordingly.

Sincerely yours,
...................... Corporation

The items that i sell on my site are items that are currently being sold all over the internet by hundreds of sellers here in the U.S and internationally, why am i being the target of this? I am not manufacturing items in the artists' name, I am just a reseller. If the corporation is coming after, then shouldn't it also go after all of the other sellers that are also selling the same items. For example, many sellers on Amazon are selling the same stuff, and I am pretty sure, it would be exhausting going after all of them, it's not something that is even possible. What is the best way to go about this?


I'm not a lawyer; but, that appears to be a standard "cease and desist" letter; are you violating a trademark? If so, then yes it can be enforced legally. You should be able to verify the claim by searching the trademark database.

I suggest you check with your supplier to insure that they did acquired the rights and have paid royalty to make the product. And yes, you can expect all celebrity products require some kind of royalty for the use of their brand.

You also asked about the other sellers....
Do you think a fisherman catches all the fish?

EDIT - If you find that the supplier has not bought the rights to the trademark, you can try to pay royalty to sell it.
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There was a case where Rihanna sued Topshop for using her picture on one of their shirts. She won the suit. Unforutnatley, I can't post links yet! BUt a quick google should givr you the info you need.


No, you absolutely cannot sell trademarked goods unless you buy a license (and pay them royalties), or sell via someone else who does, like Amazon or something.
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