Not strictly true Beetsie, The Lanham Act governs federal protection of personality rights, and the doctrine has much in common with the laws defining federal protection of trademarks.In fact, an individual’s identity could be considered their personal “mark”, the misappropriation of which is sufficient to constitute infringement. In addition, both trademark and publicity rights appear to be designed somewhat to combat infringement for the sake of consumers, granting a cause of action for false descriptions, false representations, and false endorsement claims. Just as there is a cause of action for implying a certain brand sponsors a product when it really does not, there is a cause an action if a celebrity’s identity is used to imply endorsement for a product they are not, in actuality, affiliated with.
It's akin to me taking a picture of Say, one of the admins here then using it for commercial purpose, I may well own the physical print but what I don't own is that persons likeness for purposes of commercial gain or promotion.
It is however something that is decided by a court as the statutes do vary state by state.
IF that person is a PUBLIC FIGURE a phrase or photo or something like that can be "trademarked" PEOPLE can not be trademarked . Their names can be .
A trademark is any word, name, symbol, or design, or any combination thereof, used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from those of another and to indicate the source of the goods. See 15 U.S.C. § 1127.
Trademarks are generally words, phrases, logos and symbols used by producers to identify their goods. However, shapes, sounds, fragrances and colors may also be registered as trademarks. See Qualitex v. Jacobsen Products Co., Inc., 514 U.S. 159 (1995). In recent years, trademark law has expanded to include trade dress and antidilution protection. Almost any word, name, symbol, or device capable of distinguishing the source of goods may be used as a trademark subject to few limitations. However, a mark's eligibility for trademark protection may be limited by application of the functionality doctrine, and a mark may be denied registration if it falls within any of the categories listed under 15 U.S.C. § 1052.
Use in Commerce and Distinctiveness
Two basic requirements must be met for a mark to be eligible for trademark protection: it must be in use in commerce and it must be distinctive.