SLS Hotel Fights to Display an Image of Dean Martin on its Casino Carpet

Dean Martin Dispute Las Vegas

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The SLS Hotel & Casino, formerly known as the Sahara Hotel and Casino, has a long and storied history dating back to 1952.

According to Courthouse News Service, the owner of the hotel and casino, Stockbridge/SBE Holding, is requesting court approval to continue using large iconic image of Dean Martin on its casino's carpet.

The Sahara Hotel and Casino is known for bringing many amazing performances to Las Vegas throughout the years including from Rat Pack members Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr. as well as from entertainers Tony Bennett, Judy Garland, and Liza Minnelli.

Although Dean Martin passed away in 1995, his image is still creating waves and excitement almost 20 years later in the gaming capital of the world. Stockbridge argues that Rat Pack appearances in Sin City "have cultural and historical significance" and claims the hotels and casinos that hosted them are known as "Rat Pack hotel-casinos."

The casino operator believes they should be allowed to display the carpet with Dean Martin's image since it is merely decoration and not used for commercial purposes. The dispute about the use of Dean Martin's image began in December 2014 when Stockbridge received a letter from Dean Martin Family Trust trustee Joel Smith stating the image on the carpet infringed upon Dean Martin's right of publicity, which is property of the trust.

After the casino operator responded that the "singular use of a photograph in the carpeting for décor celebrating a part of the Sahara's and Las Vegas' history does not infringe Dean Martin's right of publicity" does not infringe on any rights, Smith demanded $50,000 for a license fee, and threatened to legal action if the casino did not pay up or remove Dean Martin's image.

Stockbridge's legal representation, Michael J. McCue, with Lewis Roca & Rothgerber, reacted to this response by suing the Smith and the Dean Martin Family Trust for the right to use the image along with attorney costs and fees.

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