The right to exploit Marilyn Monroe photographic images was upheld by the US District Court of New York last week. Reaffirming a California decision in favour of Tom Kelley Studios and Milton H Greene Archives, the court held Marilyn Monroe LLC and CMG Worldwide do not have the right to licence the Marilyn Monroe name, image, likeness or signature.
As a result of the two cases, commercial licensing of Marilyn Monroe image have soared over recent months, according to Gary Saal, director of licensing at Legends Licensing. Over 50 international licences have signed up with the company through its Marilyn Monroe Licensing Group division.
Saal attributes this increase to the fact that no licence fees need to be paid to MMLLC or CMG and the fact that Legends Licensing and its Marilyn Monroe Licensing Group has assembled the largest and most diverse collection of Monroe images in existence, creating a one stop shop for licensees.
The Marilyn Monroe Licensing Group currently includes the Tom Kelley Collection (including Kelley's iconic early nudes known as The Red Velvet Collection), the Milton H Greene Collection (pictured) and the Harold Lloyd Collection.
"This ruling reconfirms that MMLLC and CMG's stranglehold on the Marilyn Monroe licensing business is broken," said Surjit Soni of the Pasadena CA Soni Law Firm and counsel for the Greene and Kelley parties.
"Licensees who have, according to Forbes Magazine, paid approximately $7 million in royalties to CMG in 2007 - which represents over $50 million in wholesale revenues - are now free to licence Marilyn Monroe photographs from copyright owners at a lower total cost and a higher profit potential."