Court rejects Hebrew U. lawsuit against GM over Einstein’s image

(JTA) — A lawsuit by Hebrew University challenging the right of General Motors to use the image of Albert Einstein in an advertisement was dismissed in a U.S. court.

A Los Angeles District Court judge, Howard Matz , ruled last week that the protection of Einstein’s image expired 55 years after his death in 1955.

Hebrew University was an Einstein beneficiary and claimed it owns his right of publicity.

General Motors used a picture of Einstein purchased from Getty Images in a November 2009 advertisement in People Magazine for an SUV, according to the Detroit News. Einstein’s head was pasted on a muscular body under the headline "Ideas are sexy too." 

"[Einstein] did become the symbol and embodiment of genius. His persona has become thoroughly ingrained in our cultural heritage," the ruling read, according to the Detroit News. "Now, nearly 60 years after his death, that persona should be freely available to those who seek to appropriate it as part of their own expression, even in tasteless ads."
 

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