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Lugosi v. Universal Pictures

Supreme Court of California
603 P.2d 425 (1979)


The widow and son (Heirs) (plaintiffs) of Bela Lugosi, the actor who played the role of Dracula in several feature films, brought an action against Universal Pictures Company, Inc. (Universal) (defendant) to recover profits generated by licensing the use of Lugosi’s likeness for merchandising purposes. The trial court determined that the contract between Lugosi and Universal only entitled Universal to use Lugosi’s likeness in the motion pictures and related advertisements and did not cover separate merchandising. The trial court determined that Universal had infringed upon Lugosi’s right of publicity, and held in favor of the Heirs. Universal appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

Dissent (Bird, C.J.)

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