There are some celebrities that make headlines no matter what they do. You see their names in the tabloids and in the regular news outlets. The specific celebrities this applies to tends to change over time as stars rise and fall. However, there are some celebrities who have longer lasting power. Madonna is certainly one of those celebrities with lasting power. Thus, it is interesting that she is involved in a lawsuit against Marlon Brando’s estate that has received little notice.
The lawsuit is over a contract between companies over Madonna’s use of Brando’s name in her song “Vogue.” Every time she performs the song, Madonna has to pay the estates of all of the celebrities she mentions in the song for the right to do so. Brando’s estate wants more money and Madonna’s side believes that Brando’s estate is breaching a contract by demanding more.
The case is interesting as it highlights the importance of ongoing property rights in an estate plan. Some types of rights can continue to earn money for an estate long after you pass away. In this case, it’s publicity rights, but there are many others that your estate can earn from and that it will need to protect.