The Other Carla
Before we leave Klown-land for Legal-land, is Karla aware of Carla the Clown (aka Carla the Clown of Love). Unless Carla and Karla are the same -- and the Dear Rich staff assumes they're not -- then the two clowns may be headed for a celebrity clown smackdown. The rights to the name trademark (soundalikes matter) will go to the first person to offer clown services in the geographic region (the name does not yet appear to be federally registered). . Some clowns have not been afraid to assert trademark rights but Karla may want to consult a lawyer before proceeding.
A Clown's Publicity Rights
Whether it's Krusty, Bozo, or Weary Willie, one of the key factors in asserting a right of publicity is to popularize that clown so that it is "identifiable" by the public. When a performer's persona is embodied in a specific role, make-up, or costume, the question is not whether the performer is identifiable under the make-up, but whether the performer and the role are inseparable. For example, in a 1994 case, a court ruled that Spanky McFarland's character from the Our Gang comedies was so closely identifiable with him that it was inseparable from the actor's own public image and on that basis his estate could proceed with a right of publicity claim. So if Karla is "inextricably identified" with a specific performer, then Karla has secured a right of publicity. If not, then .....