It seems as if people are popping up all over the place producing Major Taylor Racing jerseys. What is interesting is that Nike (see pictures in post dated 12/01/2008) is doing sneakers packs and several different organizations are selling and distributing jerseys baring his likeness on them. As Paul Harvey says on the Radio "Now......the rest of the story." I read a book called 'Major' awhile back and the author of that book stated that he received input from Major Taylor's descendants and many big name celebrities have approached them about using Major's name.
The author went on to say, although he didn't quote any of Marshall Taylor's descendant's, that the likes of Whoopi Golberg, Spike Lee, and others have 'wanted what was theirs' and they said no! So I would be interested to know if Nike, or any of the other companies selling products with Taylor's likeness on them have paid any royalties to the family.
This keeps twisting and turning! A lady from Hawaii is actually waiting on Trademark Approval from the U.S. Patent Office for the express purpose of using Taylor's image and likeness on black and white photos (busts only) to put on jerseys. I wonder if her attorney told her that Taylor's name, image and likeness is probably public domain, or if the attorney just grabbed this ladies $$$ and filled her application...does the attorney even know?
Recently, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s estate went after all of those selling merchandise with Dr. King's and Barack Obama's likeness on them for the express purpose of collecting licensing royalties. I do believe that the difference is (and someone email me the correction if I am in error supported by case law) that Dr. King has been dead 40 years and Marshall Major Taylor has been dead for about 76 years. A celebrities name and likeness become public domain 70 years after their death. The twist is this law was signed in the early 1980s and I do not know how that would effect royalty payments and whether the law is retroactive. For instance, anybody can use 18th Century composer's music without paying a Royalty. Let me know!