The Lanham Act defines and governs trademarks, service marks, and unfair competition, all to protect American consumers from market confusion. Under the Lanham Act, a mark is famous if it is “widely recognizable to the general consuming public of the United States.” When a celebrity brings a claim under the Lanham Act for the unauthorized use of their image, courts may find that the celebrity’s name and image constitute an unregistered trademark, while the celebrity’s persona is the goods or services which the celebrity places into commerce. To analyze the claim, several factors help determine the likelihood of market confusion. Of these factors, strength of the mark—referring to the “level of recognition the celebrity enjoys among members of the population,”—poses interesting challenges to influencers and models, filtering out anyone who has not reached celebrity status.
Golden Gate University School of Law, "Here’s Why it’s Time the Lanham Act Recognizes Personal Brands" (2022). GGU Law Review Blog. 99.