Johnny Carson may have passed away five years ago, but his estate is vigilant about making sure his post-life career doesn’t go down the toilet.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has denied a toilet salesman a registration to trademark the phrase “Here’s Johnny” in association with portable toilets. Its Trademark Trial and Appeal Board denied Earl J. Braxton’s efforts, noting that Carson had successfully brought civil action against him when he was living.
The appeal board said Carson’s “right to publicity survived his death,” and that Braxton’s business, Toilets.com, is located in a state — Michigan — with a common law post-mortem right of publicity. The decision essentially confirms that the phrase is so linked to Carson that its commercial exploitation can be prevented even after his death.
The law firm that repped Carson when he was alive, Pattishall, McAuliffe, Newbury, Hilliard & Geraldson in Chicago, with the case going to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, repped his estate and foundation.