Clothier Sued Over Alleged Unauthorized Use of Playboy Founder’s Image

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Hugh M. Hefner Foundation is suing an e- commerce clothing company for allegedly using his name and likeness on their party- and rave-inspired attire without the foundation’s consent.

The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit brought Wednesday targets Funstigators, alleging a violation of the Civil Code and seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. A Funstigators representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The foundation was established in 1964 to support organizations that advocate for and defend civil rights and civil liberties, with a special emphasis on First Amendment rights and rational sex and drug policies, causes that Playboy founder Hugh Hefner championed during his lifetime, the suit states.

Funstigators, through its website and multiple online outlets sells costumes and robes that it brands using Hefner’s name, image and likeness that are or have been marketed as “Signature Hugh Hefner Velvet Smoking Jacket & Lounge Pants Costume,” “Hugh Hefner Signature Embossed Smoking Jacket” and “Hugh Signature Brocade Smoking Jacket,” the suit states.

When the foundation in 2021 contacted Funstigators and demanded the company stop selling apparel products using Hefner’s name, image and likeness, the company’s owner promised she would cease doing so, the suit states.

However, Funstigators later reneged on its promise, illustrating the “willful, intentional and wanton nature” of the company’s violation of the foundation’s rights, the suit states.

Funstigators subsequently altered its web listings for the Hefner products by removing photographs of the late magazine mogul and instead saying the products were “inspired ” by him, according to the suit, which includes before and after copies of the Funstigator ads.

“These alterations only illustrate that (Funstigators) is aware that it has violated Hefner’s right of publicity,” the suit states.

Hefner died in of an E coli infection in September 2017 at age 91. He is interred at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles in the crypt beside Marilyn Monroe, for which he paid $75,000 in 1992.

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