Celebrity IP Moves from the Gossip Pages to the Business Section

Jeff Landers in Forbes provides background for what is at once a titillating subject for the masses and of at least passing interest to the valuation community.  Why are celebrity divorces so complicated? Why do they drag on interminably?  It’s not just a matter of who gets the mansion and who gets the Bentley. Mr. Landers argues persuasively that it’s all about the intellectual property rights that inhabit celebrity.

The Michael Douglas divorce from his first wife (Diandra) is used as an example.  Just as yesterday’s blog pointed out how the nuanced difference between a sale and a license with respect to music downloads will probably mean millions of dollars in additional royalties to artists with older license deals, the divorce decree between the Douglases allowed for future payments to Diandra for “spinoffs,” and Mr. Douglas argues the new Wall Street is a “sequel.” The now fourteen-year battle between the spouses is being fueled by different interpretations of the value and definition of the IP in the marital estate.

Another example drips from the Gossip pages (that’s right, not the Sports pages) covering the NBA playoffs. Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh is suing Allison Mathis, “the mother of his child,” for infringing on his trademark and publicity rights by appearing in the third season of “Basketball Wives,” a VH1 reality show.  Reportedly, Celtics Center Shaquille O’Neal had a similar complaint against his ex-wife over her role in the same program.

How long will it be before Martindale Hubbell lists Family IP Law as a new discipline?