Lawsuit filed for control over James Dean Twitter handle

(WISH photo)

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) – A recently filed lawsuit could impact Twitter users. It centers around Twitter handles and who has the rights to certain names.

The lawsuit was filed by CMG Worldwide headquartered in Fishers. The company represents Dean’s estate, James Dean, Inc. and wants control over the handle @JamesDean. Someone has been tweeting from that handle since 2009. CMG contends they have exclusive control over the name and therefore should have control over the Twitter handle.

Since his death, James Dean from Fairmount only gained popularity. James Dean Inc. wants to protect his legacy.

“And it’s just something that needs to be harnessed and controlled. And having exclusive control over the handle would give our client that power,” said Clare Neumann, CMG Worldwide IP Licensing Executive and Legal Counsel.

As a big fan of Dean’s, @jamesdean has tweeted about the famous late movie star for more than six years. CMG Worldwide wants to take over that account, including the more than 8,000 followers.

“I think it’s a slippery slope. So, my initial reaction is that it makes me nervous,” said Hoosier Shelly Brosemer.

“If they’re not making money and not doing anything malicious I don’t really see the problem,” said Indiana resident Kelsey Kennedy.

CMG says it’s taking care of its client. And what’s important is how the brand is positioned.

“And so having the is important for the brand identity. But, it’s also important because that’s the first place fans are going to look for official information,” Neumann said.

The thought of the demand raises questions. For example, what if a Twitter user shares the name of a famous celebrity?

“My first thought was, if somebody’s name is James Dean than how could you take that away from them?” Indiana resident Bryan Orander said.

Left up to CMG, the intellectual property value of someone of a famous person is worth more than a non-famous person. CMG says in many cases, the priority of specific Twitter handles should then be given to someone who has gained fame.

“Because of the IP rights involved and the protection that should be afforded famous personalities,” Neumann said.

According to Twitter’s guidelines, @jamesdean hasn’t broken any rules and they aren’t backing down.

The lawsuit was handed over to the Federal Court on Friday.

On Tuesday, @jamesdean tweeted emails between @jamesdean and CMG from 2010 that allegedly detail a conversation of possibly working together in the future they state:
“Mr. Piechocki, I appreciate your courteous reply. I am pleased CMG wants me to continue updating and managing the @jamesdean account.

“…as I enjoy doing so and am flattered that you offer me this opportunity. I welcome CMG as a co-administrator on the account.”

Neumann says right now CMG wants exclusive control over the account and may consider working with the creator of @jamesdean down the road. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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