January 11, 2010 05:10 PM

Sonia Moskowitz/Globe

Last week PETA caused a stir with an anti-fur ad that featured the likeness of Michelle Obama. The First Lady, however, isn’t the only White House resident whose image has been the target of unauthorized commercial use: A towering billboard for Weatherproof Sportswear featuring President Obama clad in a jacket by the company is set to come down in New York City’s Times Square after the White House took note. When the ad went up last week, the company was blasted for using the photo; now, a Weatherproof Sportswear spokesperson tells CNN that the billboard will be removed “in an expeditious manner.” White House spokesperson Ben LaBolt, who declined to comment specifically about Weatherproof’s decision to take the billboard down, told PEOPLE, “The White House has a longstanding policy disapproving of the use of the President’s name and likeness for advertising purposes.” So, what was the company thinking when it put up the ad? Weatherproof President Freddie Stollmack, who called the campaign “serendipitous,” explained, “We saw a picture of President Obama visiting the Great Wall of China and we said, ‘Boy that looks like our coat.'” It was a simple idea, but one that’s hard to defend, according to First Amendment experts. Intellectual property lawyer Barbara Solomon tells CNN, “This is not an issue of expression. This is a pure commercial appropriation. This is an advertisement and nothing but an ad,” continuing, “It is a violation of Mr. Obama’s right of publicity, his right to control his appearance and his likeness.” –Katherine Kluznik Rentmeester

You May Like