Suit alleges GM stole Einstein for ad

Publicity rights owned by Israeli university; carmaker says it paid firm to use the photo

By Robert Snell
A university that owns Albert Einstein’s publicity rights is suing General Motors Co. for unauthoriSed use of the dead physicist’s image in an ad for the GMC Terrain.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem sued GM in U.S. District Court in California last week for more than $75,000, accusing the automaker of fraudulently using the likeness. Einstein willed his publicity rights to the school before he died at 76 in 1955.
It is the latest advertising controversy for GM, which has struggled to perfect its marketing pitch since emerging from bankruptcy last summer.

Chairman and Chief Executive Ed Whitacre Jr. was accused of stretching the truth in a recent commercial by saying the automaker had repaid its federal loans; GM made the payment using unspent loan funds and the government still owns 61 percent of the company.
This month, GM hired a new marketing guru and changed advertising agencies for a second time in recent months for its largest brand, Chevrolet.
“It may be GM thought, ‘Oh, he died and the rights are all public domain now,’ “ said John T. Brooks, a partner with Chicago law firm Foley & Lardner LLP who specialiSes in estates and trusts. “It’s old and cold and nobody’s got rights to it.”

GM purchased the right to use the Einstein image from a “reputable firm,” Ryndee Carney, the automaker’s spokeswoman, said Wednesday. The firm guarantees clients it has the rights to use the images, she added.
She would not identify the firm but said the ad, which ran in People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue in September, was produced by GMC’s advertising agency Leo Burnett.

“The ad ran just once for that specific issue,” Carney said.
The lawsuit illustrates the lengths to which celebrity estates will go to defend lucrative profits. Einstein’s estate grossed $10 million last year, making the late physicist one of the top earning dead celebrities.
Einstein, whose name and image have been licensed for use in McDonald’s Happy Meals and the popular Baby Einstein products, ranked ninth between authors Dr. Seuss ($15 million) and Michael Crichton ($9 million), according to Forbes.com.
The four-page GMC ad that ran in People magazine featured the dead physicist’s head superimposed on a half-nude underwear model with an “e=mc2” tattoo, a takeoff on Einstein’s equation about the relationship between mass and energy.

“ The tattooed, shirtless image of Dr. Einstein with his underpants on display is not consummate with and causes injury to (the university’s) carefully guarded rights in the image and likeness of the famous scientist, political activist, and humanitarian,” Hebrew University lawyer Antoinette Waller wrote in the suit.
The university owns several trademark registrations featuring Einstein for use in a variety of trinkets, including toys, cardboard cut-out figures, pen and pencil holders, clocks, watches, luggage, umbrellas and key chains.
The school’s licensing agent, GreenLight Productions LLC., supervises the licensing of Einstein’s rights to companies, including automakers such as DaimlerChrysler AG, Hyundai Motor Co. and, ironically, Saab, the Swedish brand formerly owned by GM, according to the lawsuit.

Hebrew University asked a federal judge to stop GMC from using Einstein’s image or likeness in a way that suggests the late physicist and college are sponsoring the automaker’s vehicles. The school also wants an unspecified amount of money “considering that GMC acted in intentional and willful disregard” of the university’s rights.

The Terrain crossover sport-utility vehicle featured in the ad is one of several new products fueling a rebound in sales of GM’s Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac brands, which rose 19.7 percent last month compared to a year earlier. GM also posted an $865 million first-quarter profit -- its first in almost three years.

“I suppose you could make a business decision that you can make so much money that you can withstand a lawsuit that would tell them to stop and fine them something,” Brooks said. “It wouldn’t be the first time a corporation has done something thinking they might pay the price for it, but it’s worth it.”
The Einstein case isn’t the first time GM has been sued by a celebrity for using their likeness in ads. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sued General Motors Corp. for $2 million in 2005 for using his likeness in an ad after his contract with the automaker had expired.

(Courtesy The Detroit News)


DIMO launches the newest ‘Starbus’

With public transportation becoming an area of concern for many due to the lack of proper service levels still prevalent within the country, DIESEL & MOTOR ENGINEERING PLC (DIMO) which is a company that has always emphasized the importance of safe and high quality public transportation and has taken the initiative to add new levels of excellence to the area of public transportation. With this in mind DIMO takes pride in introducing the latest addition to the TATA Bus range - the new ‘Starbus’.

The latest range of buses is set to take public transportation to a new dimension. The Starbus range, offers variants in seating capacities which are from 30 to 57 seats and are designed on the single concept of optimum functionality and comfort. The hallmark of the Starbus range of buses is superior quality, maximum comfort to the passenger and unparallelled operating economy to bus operators.
The new Starbus is designed with a sleek and elegant look which wil

 redefine the public transport sector forever. The new Starbus exterior and interior is professionally designed to provide proper ventilation whilst also allowing natural light to enter the bus, thus making the journey both comfortable and pleasant for its passengers.
The manufacturer, TATA Motors is committed towards making bus transport safer than any other form of motoriSed transport and therefore every aspect of the design, development and fabrication of the Starbus is driven by this common principle. The Starbus body shell undergoes extensive testing on specially constructed torture tracks. Flinite Element Analysis (FEA) ensures optimum strength and weight at each point of the bus body. Reinforced side panelling is capable of withstanding crash impacts. Each and every aspect of the bus body conforms to the most stringent motor vehicle rules. Safety of the passengers as well as other users of the road can be ensured only when the visibility of the driver is unimpaired therefore the vehicle’s single-piece front windshield allows the driver to have an unobstructed view of the road.

The vehicle’s strategically positioned rear-view mirrors further add to the convenience of the driver. The Starbus is also specially equipped for night driving. The headlamps are designed so as to provide a dip/beam, which makes the quality of illumination in front of the bus much better than ordinary head lamps. The exemplary ergonomics of the driver’s cabin offer the best possible conditions for concentration and mental alertness for the man in charge. The driver’s seat is mechanically suspended which allows him to position the seat as per his requirements. The new suspension system ensures a noiseless journey to commuters, better manoeuvrability to the driver furthermore less wear and tear to tyres, kingpins, wheel bearings and body mounts, etc.
The Starbus is powered by 6 cylinders, water cooled and turbo charged. The Cummins diesel engine has the capacity to generate up to 125HP. Another feature that is included in the Starbus is the clutch booster mechanism, which ensures minimising the fatigue of the driver. The new inline type fuel injector pump provides a better fuel average which in turn helps to reduce operating costs.

This Starbus is designed to make the passengers’ journey a comfortable one. The seats are ergonomically designed with soft head flaps and offer sufficient leg room. Extensive use of sound-absorbing material ensures reduction of noise levels in the passenger cabin. The Starbus is fully built by TATA Motors and these buses are designed to suit the Sri Lankan market.

At TATA Motors, every effort is aimed at delivering superior quality and the Starbus body stands testimony to this. The GP stretch panels used for body building result in a high-strength, durable body. This in turn implies lower maintenance cost and higher re-sale value. The aluminium skirting panels provide an excellent surface finish without any rough or protruding edges. Furthermore the brilliant white body colour, along with superior surface finish, projects a classy external appearance. The customers are able to purchase A/C and non A/C buses as well. With all these features DIMO is offering an unmatched warranty. DIMO authorised islandwide service and genuine parts network is also available for Starbus customers.

The first 25 Starbuses were handed over to Bus Owners by the Chairman of DIMO Mr. Ranjith Pandithage in the company of Vijitha Bandara, General Manager TATA Commercial Vehicle Division. The ‘Key handing-over ceremony’ to the owners of the buses took place at the Commercial Vehicle Service Complex in Mahena Road, Siyambalape on Monday the May 24, 2010. DIMO is confident that Starbus will be able to revolutioniSe and upgrade the future of public transportation in Sri Lanka.




ABANS launch free taxi meter project for three wheelers

Abans recently launched a major CSR project to provide Free Digital Taxi Meters to three wheeler taxis in the Colombo area.
This multi million rupee project has been sponsored by Sanyo Co. of Japan whom Abans represent as Sole Agents for their products in Sri Lanka. Sanyo is one of the leading brands of electronics and home appliances in Japan and globally recognised as a market leader.
The first stage of the project is aimed to provide 1000 three wheelers in the Colombo area with taxi meters absolutely free of charge and subsequently extend the service to three wheelers in other towns and cities in Sri Lanka.

The project will provide mutual benefits to both commuters as well as three wheeler operators. Commuters can look forward to a hassle-free three wheeler taxi service without the embarrassment of having to negotiate and bargain before embarking on a journey. It will also create professional dignity and respect of three wheeler drivers and ensure more hires through enhanced commuter confidence. It would also ensure that they will be paid for waiting time.

Now you can stop a SANYO branded three-wheeler taxi and travel with peace of mind that you are being charged a regulated fare. A spokesperson for Abans cautioned commuters to check that the meter is switched on with the correct fare indicated when you commence your journey. He also stressed that Abans is providing a free service to three-wheelers in return for branding SANYO’ and that they do not own the vehicles. As such, they do not hold themselves liable to commuters in any way.

The taxi meters will indicate Rs.50/- for the first km when switched on and Rs.30/- per km thereafter, and will indicate the amount due at any time as the journey proceeds. The meters will indicate an overtime surcharge of one and a half times the normal fare during 10.00 p.m. and 5.00 a.m.
Abans have been engaged in many noteworthy CSR Projects lending assistance to schools, homes for elders and children and providing houses to many families who were rendered homeless by the Tsunami. Abans have always endeavoured to play a major role in helping local authorities to keep the city clean and maintaining and beautifying centre islands and roundabouts in Colombo and suburbs.


Singer and Lumala Cycle to Success

Singer, the #1 public brand in Sri Lanka, and Lumala, the market leader in bicycle manufacturing, recently announced that Lumala bicycles will now be available through all Singer outlets, including Singer Mega, Singer Plus, and Sisil stores, as well as dealers island-wide. This partnership between two giants in their relative industries was greeted with widespread excitement by Sri Lankan cycle lovers who are well aware of Lumala’s reputation for customer satisfaction and innovation.

This commitment to delighting customers is shared by Singer, which rode away with the most coveted prizes at the recently concluded People’s Awards. Adjudged Sri Lanka’s ‘Brand of the Year’, ‘Best Consumer Durables Brand’, and ‘Youth Brand of the Year’, Singer has built its reputation on maintaining the highest standards of product and service quality. The awards, which were based on the results of extensive surveys conducted by Nielsen Company, a leading market research firm, reflect the strength of the relationship shared between Singer and the Sri Lankan consumer.

With the addition of Lumala bicycles to the extensive product range sold at its retail outlets, Singer aims to make the shopping experience as rich as possible for its customers. Offering a staggering variety of branded consumer products at over 360 retail outlets island-wide, Singer’s customers have access to the lifestyle of their dreams anywhere in the country. From Singer Sisil, Unic, Hitachi, Whirpool, Philips, Kinetic, Farmmaster and many more branded products including newly introduced lap top computers to Lumala bicycles, Sri Lankans can easily step into a Singer outlet and purchase exactly what they want.

After making a purchase, Singer customers can relax in the knowledge that they can rely on the company’s world-class service network. This network, which spans across the entire island and includes 7 regional service centres and more than 100 service franchise agents, ensures that customers get the very best after-sales service possible at a location convenient to them. With the company’s innovative Sanasuma extended warranty scheme, customers are guaranteed of total peace of mind after making a purchase.
The partnership between Singer and Lumala bicycles is aimed at giving Singer’s customers a more complete range of products. Customers can now walk into any Singer retail outlet and cycle away with the bike of their dreams.