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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and now Michael Phelps

One of the interesting stories in the Ben Hogan 'Legacy' dvd, part of 'The Ben Hogan Collection' 3 dvd pack concerns Mr. Hogan's role in establishing the legal basis for the fair use of an athlete's name and image in sports marketing and advertising.

Back in the mid 1950's so the story goes from Mr. Hogan's attorney there was no legal basis for protecting the rights of athletes and other person's of fame from having their image and name used by other entities for marketing and advertising purposes without the benefit of permission or compensation. Well, a book publisher, who happened to have previously published one of Mr. Hogan's golf instruction books, went on to publish another golf book using Mr. Hogan's name in the book and in marketing activities. They did not seek or receive Mr. Hogan's permission resulting in a lawsuit against the publisher. The basis for the suit was a person's rights to privacy. Mr. Hogan won the suit and a modest settlement.

However, the real benefit was that now there was a legal basis for requiring permission and/or compensation to the individual for the use of their name and likeness. Mr. Hogan went on to endorse many products in his lifetime and was compensated for them fairly. Even to this day, his name and likeness is protected by this legal finding, benefitting the Hogan Estate, family members, and endorsed charities.

Probably no one endorsed more products during his career than Arnold Palmer. If one visits the Palmer exhibit at the World Golf Hall of Fame or at the new museum at the USGA's Golf House one can only marvel at the extent and number and diversity of products that the golf's King endorsed.

Tiger Woods may not endorse as many at this point but his financial endorsement deals are marvelous and quite selective. He may eventually catch up to Palmer but he has a long way to go. I just wish he would give his regal nod to our 'Collection'! I would be glad to give him a free copy for himself and those he designates to receive one!

Now, Michael Phelps, the wonder of the Olympics is about to embark on this lucrative path of endorsements and appearance fees. His dedication and achievements in his sport truly supports his earning it. I hope he thinks to thank his lucky stars and Ben Hogan!

And on another note, I am not clear why all the sports writers and some golf announcers are so against golf at the Olympics. It will increase their travel budgets every four years. I do think the best players in the world world in golf would love to win an Olympic Golf medal. I know I would and I bet Ben Hogan would have given it a go. He would have put it in a place of honor in the trophy case next to his 5 US Open medals and his Open trophy. The term 'the best golfer on the planet' was something Mr. Hogan liked to hear in the next breath after the name 'Mr. Golf'.

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