King Family Wants Cut of Obama-King Souvenir Cash

The dream may be passed down, but not the brand
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 14, 2008 11:41 AM CST
King Family Wants Cut of Obama-King Souvenir Cash
In this Nov. 5, 2008, file photo, people celebrate the victory of President-elect Barack Obama in the early morning hours in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami.   (AP Photo)

The family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is demanding a share of the proceeds from the sudden wave of T-shirts, posters, and other merch pairing the civil rights leader with Barack Obama, the AP reports. Obama may have inherited the dream, but they own the brand, says the MLK nephew who heads King Center,  who adds that the estate is entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees—maybe even millions.

"Some of this is probably putting food on people's plates. We're not trying to stop anybody from legitimately supporting themselves," says Isaac Newton Farris Jr. "But we cannot allow our brand to be abused."  Of course policing the MLK image and actually collecting any fees could prove to be a legal nightmare; because he's an elected official, Obama's image is in the public domain. Farris says he plans to license some King-Obama merch himself in coming weeks.
(More Barack Obama stories.)

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