By: Josh H. Escovedo
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.
According to ESPN.com, an autographed card of Lloyd closed out during the game for $177.50, and another card closed out after the game for $218. Prior to the World Cup, Lloyd’s autographed cards sold for $15 to $20. Further, ESPN confirmed that personal appearances by Lloyd would now cost approximately $30,000 for two hours, which was up from $10,000 since the first round of the World Cup, and $15,000 since the U.S. beat Germany in the semifinals.
Prior to this year’s World Cup, Lloyd did not have many endorsement deals aside from Nike and Usana Health Sciences. However, as of last week, she closed a deal to represent Visa through the 2016 Olympics. As you may expect, there will be no shortage of endorsement deals for the superstar now. According to her agent, Josh Weil of William Morris Endeavor, Lloyd is in negotiations with an automobile company and a watch company. Weil said he would like to obtain a deal for Lloyd with a company like AT&T or McDonalds. However, his client has insisted that he put an emphasis on obtaining a deal in the nutrition and training industry. According to Weil, “food, wealth and wellness, is what she is always focused on.” My general inclination is that Lloyd will have no problem obtaining such a deal.
Of course the take away here is simple: score a hat trick in the World Cup Finals, and you too, can get mega endorsement deals. Okay, maybe that isn’t realistic, but what we can all take away from this example is that intellectual property rights can be highly lucrative. As such, corners should not be cut in adequately protecting them through all avenues provided by the law.