Unless you have been living under a rock for the last week, you know who Carli Lloyd is. If, however, you do not, she is the reigning World Cup MVP for Team USA. On Sunday, in perhaps the most astonishing World Cup performance of all time, Lloyd scored a hat trick in just the 16th minute of the game, and propelled Team USA to its third Women’s World Cup championship. You may be wondering, how is this related to intellectual property, and I promise you, I am getting there.
After Lloyd scored her second goal in the first five minutes of Sunday’s World Cup final, her official website’s server crashed because it was getting so much traffic. Just eleven minutes later, Lloyd scored her third goal and transitioned into a household name. During the game alone, Lloyd gained 50,000 Twitter followers. By now, the connection between this article and intellectual property may be evident: Lloyd’s spike in popularity also caused a spike in the value of her likeness.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines likeness as (1) a picture of a person; or (2) the quality or state of being alike or similar especially in appearance. California law provides that the appropriation of a person’s name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness for a commercial use is actionable. Thus, a celebrity is entitled to control the use of their likeness in the commercial context to their financial gain if they so desire. Simply put, Lloyd’s hat trick may have not just cemented her spot in World Cup history, but also greatly increased her wealth.