Lon Chaney Jr. was a horror movie star during the 1930s and 40s, known best for the iconic rolls of Wolf Man, Frankenstein, the Mummy and Son of Dracula. While the actor passed away in 1973, his likeness is still used today, which is the precise reason his surviving heirs are suing Universal Studios.
Universal Studios had made a deal with Chaney to be able to use his name, likeness, signature, voice and any other aspects of his image. However, this deal apparently expired in 2008 and the heirs claim that, despite the end of the contract, Universal has continued to exploit Chaney’s persona for profit, without paying royalties or having an agreement with Chaney Entertainment, the company ran by Chaney’s heirs.
Chaney Entertainment has filed a lawsuit against Universal for $1 million in damages. They are suing for unauthorized use of rights, breach of implied covenant of fair dealing and good faith, and a breach of written contracts. The case will go before a judge to determine its outcome unless the parties can reach a settlement outside of court.
This is not the first time that the estate of a celebrity has doled out lawsuits and it won’t be the last. Some of the most famous cases consist of Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Michael Jackson and Marlon Brando.
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