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Marilyn Monroe Estate Threatens Legal Action Over Hologram (Exclusive)

The Marilyn Monroe estate gave THR a statement:

"The Estate of Marilyn Monroe is the sole and exclusive holder of Marilyn Monroe's personality and identity rights and rights in the MARILYN MONROE trademark, and the unauthorized use of Ms. Monroe's identity and persona, such as that contemplated by Digicon Media, violates and infringes the Estate's rights in derogation of several Federal and State laws. 

New and emerging digital and holographic technologies present the Estate and Authentic Brands Group with a host of intriguing opportunities befitting an icon of Ms. Monroe's caliber. 

To that end, the Estate and Authentic Brands Group look forward to teaming with best-in-class partners in these fields to bring Ms. Monroe's fans top-of-the-line, exciting entertainment experiences.  The Estate is unfamiliar with Digicon Media's capabilities as a developer and producer of digital and holographic technology, and is unaware of any successful attempt by Digicon to organize any meaningful exploitation of the crudely animated character that it claims to be a representation of Ms. Monroe and which it allegedly created in the mid-1990s.  The Estate and Authentic Brands believe that the technological advancements made since that decade allow talented developers to create superior virtual characters, akin to the virtual Marilyn Monroe character portrayed in Dior's popular ad campaign for its J'Adore perfume. 

The Estate's cooperation is required if anyone intends to market and exploit Ms. Monroe's identity and persona through a "live" concert or otherwise, and Digicon has not secured any such cooperation from the Estate to date."

Digicon responds:

"This is the first known example of the US Copyright Office's registration of a copyright on an original character adopting the persona of a deceased iconic personality.  VM2-Virtual Marilyn, with the adopted persona of Marilyn Monroe, became a copyright protected character like Batman, SuperMan, Mickey Mouse.

Comments by the Marilyn Monroe Estate in an article in a Hollywood magazine regarding its purported rights to the persona of the deceased actress, Marilyn Monroe, contradict the rulings of two federal judges in 2008, who sanctioned and fined the Estate and its prominent counsel, for deceiving the court regarding these rights which they knew could not have been inherited based on the law of the domicile where she died.

Yet for more than 40 years the Estate demanded licenses for publicity rights to Marilyn Monroe's name and likeness it knew it never inherited...and the court said that the Monroe Estate and their attorneys engaged in unacceptable shenanigans..for misconduct in failing to disclose that the Estate knew it had no such rights yet continued to assert them to the court anyway.

This copyrighted computer generated character, VM2-Virtual Marilyn will be launched in a globally webcast live concert now in development for the end of the year or the first quarter of 2013.We are partnering with two non-profit charitable organizations who will be the beneficiaries of 70% of the net proceeds."