Suit against GM for using Einstein image dismissed by U.S. judge
A federal judge in California tossed out a suit challenging the use of Albert Einstein's image in a General Motors Co. advertisement, a Detroit newspaper reported today.
The suit came from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which argued that it owns the right of publicity as outlined in Einstein's will. The organization sued GM in 2010.
U.S. District Judge Howard Matze ruled that any copyright protections for Einstein expired 55 years after he died, The Detroit News said. Einstein died in 1955.
"(Einstein did become the symbol of embodiment of genius. His persona has become thoroughly ingrained in our cultural heritage. Now, nearly 60 years after his death, that persona should be freely available to those who seek to appropriate it as part of their own expression, even in tasteless ads," Matz ruled, according to the newspaper report.
It wasn't until 1985 that Hebrew University looked to create a business with Einstein's popular image, noted GM. Before then his face had been used in a number of advertisements, The News said.
GM had used the image of Einstein in an ad for its 2010 Terrain vehicle that was only published in one issue of People Magazine in November of 2009, GM spokesperson Alan Adler said. The ad depicts the face of Einstein placed on a muscular body with the message, "Ideas are sexy, too," the report said.
GM declined to comment on the issue, as the Hebrew University still has time to appeal the ruling.