Monday, June 19, 2006

What's in a Name?

I was surprised to find out yesterday that Dale Earnhardt Jr hasn't owned his name for the last few years. It's kind of hard for those of us in the real world to think about the idea that one's own name, and the right to license it, could be owned by someone else. In fact it was Dale's father who was among the first to see the benefit of selling a race car driver's image and he was the one who owned his son's name until his death. At the time Dale Sr died the rights of all things owned by his company, Dale Earnhardt Inc, were in control of his last wife Teresa and she set about organizing the company as she saw fit, which was of course her right.

One interesting move was her transference of the ownership of Dale Jr's name to herself as an individual and not as the head of DEI. So for the last 5 years whenever Little E wanted to put his name on an add, or act in a TV spot he had to get his stepmother's say so. Talk about busting balls. The story that announced this weekends transfer of Jr's name back to him said the details of the transaction were not disclosed, which means Teresa could have charged her step son for the opportunity to own the use of his name outright. Me personally? I'm a stubborn mother fucker and I would have changed my public persona to DJ Earnhardt just to tell the old lady to jump!

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