Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sarah Palin: Calendar Girl

Dear Rich: I would like to make and sell a calendar at the same time as the forthcoming release of Sarah Palin's memoir. I have tentatively secured permission for a Palin photograph via Getty Images. As for the phrases "Sarah Palin" and "Going Rogue", which are owned presumably by Harper Collins the publisher: 1) How much would it cost to acquire permission from the publisher? 2) According to my research the process for permission is fairly simple. Is this correct? 3) Is a request like this common for a popular book on this scale? The short answer is don't bother asking for permission for your calendar. First, it's possible -- in a major publishing agreement like this --  that the publisher didn't acquire any auxiliary merchandising rights (such as calendars, note cards, etc.) Second, even if the publisher did acquire these rights the company will either publish the calendar directly or choose a favored licensee--that is, someone with whom it has previously licensed calendar rights.Third, by asking for permission, you will put the publisher on notice as to what you're doing, which could prevent you from "going rogue" yourself. Finally, even though it's possible that the publisher will assert trademark rights to "Going Rogue," it's not likely that trademark rights can actually be acquired in a single book title such as this. Bottom line: you're running a moderate risk of being hassled for issuing your calendar (and maybe also tripping over Sarah's right of publicity). Paradoxically the Dear Rich Staff believes you'll run less risk if you don't ask for permission. In any case, you'll likely face some serious marketplace competition, which is why we suggest you abandon the idea of trading off the book title and strike out with something unique (see above).