Astronaut sues over use of historic photo

Dec. 31, 2010 at 2:45 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin is suing a trading card company for using a photograph of him on his historic moonwalk as part of a recent card series.

Aldrin, 80, the second man to walk on the moon, filed the suit against Topps in a Los Angeles federal court on Monday, saying the trading card company was unjustly profiting from his historic achievement by including a photograph of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission in an "American Heroes" series of trading cards, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Since his days in the Apollo program, Aldrin has been protective of his intellectual property rights and controlled "how his image and likeness in that photograph may be used with respect to commercial products," his attorney, Robert C. O'Brien, said in a letter to Topps.

An attorney for Topps said the company had a First Amendment right "to include a factual description of the historic events in which Dr. Aldrin participated."

"Topps included Dr. Aldrin within the 'American Heroes' edition because it believes he is an American hero and is thus proud to be able to share such information with its audience," Michael Kahn said in a letter to the law firm representing Aldrin.

The retired astronaut took the matter to court after his attorneys were unable to negotiate a licensing fee with Topps, the Times reported.

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