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James Dean estate sues Twitter over ‘@JamesDean’

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The estate of legendary Indiana film star James Dean has sued Twitter, claiming the Internet giant permitted the unauthorized personal Twitter account @JamesDean.

CMG Worldwide Inc. of Carmel represents the Dean estate among numerous other intellectual properties of deceased celebrities. The company seeks an injunction and compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the identities of five people believed to have used the @JamesDean account.

The lawsuit was removed Friday from Hamilton Superior Court to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, where it is docketed before District Judge William T. Lawrence as James Dean Inc. et al v. Twitter, Inc., 1:14-cv-00183.

The suit claims Twitter allowed use of the @JamesDean account since at least September 2012 and that people using the account “placed objectionable content on the (Twitter) website.” It alleges that Twitter refused repeated requests from the CMG to cease unauthorized use of the trademarked James Dean name and copyrighted photos.

CMG claims trademark infringement, false endorsement, violation of Indiana’s Right of Publicity statute, unfair competition, unjust enrichment, conversion and deception.   

The complaint also includes a list of tweets from the account as shown Dec. 31, 2013, in which @JamesDean had 7,899 followers. Another exhibit shows communication between lawyers for the estate and Twitter in which Twitter “determined that (@JamesDean) is not in violation of Twitter’s Trademark Policy. The account is not being used in a way that is misleading or confusing with regard to its brand, location or business affiliation.”

Tuesday, the number of @JamesDean followers had risen to more than 8,300, where tweets about the suit dominated dozens of posts since Monday.
 

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