Judge refuses to block miniseries about Elizabeth Taylor
CALIFORNIA — Actress Elizabeth Taylor cannot call her name a trademark and enjoin NBC from broadcasting a miniseries based on her life, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled in mid-September, refusing to grant an injunction sought by Taylor against the network’s production.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Taylor sought the injunction after reading in mid- June “a partial description of excerpts” from author David Heymann’s unauthorized biography on her.
She told the court her right of privacy and her right of publicity in her name, likeness and trademark outweighed any First Amendment right of the network to go forward with its production.
She claimed that the broadcast would sully her name, a trademark for colognes and perfumes, while bringing profits to NBC for a “commercial product.”
But NBC argued that a court may not order a prior restraint that would prevent an author from writing a book or a producer from producing a movie. Taylor can only seek damages after the book is published or the movie shown, the network said.
In refusing to grant the injunction Judge Diane Wayne agreed, saying that an injunction would be an unconstitutional prior restraint on expression despite the fact that NBC will profit from the miniseries. Although Taylor might properly bring a trademark action against a purely commercial activity, she cannot seek an injunction against protected expression such as television programs, she ruled. (Taylor v. NBC; Media Counsel: Douglas Mirell, Los Angeles)