FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. _ Marilyn Monroe may have been the most prominent sex symbol of the last century, but her image cannot be used to promote a highbrow Florida strip club, her estate argued in a federal lawsuit filed last week.
Monroe's of West Palm Beach is infringing on the late actress' trademark by using her name and image in its signs, its Twitter account and its very name, according to the lawsuit filed by the estate of Marilyn Monroe, which is based in New York.
The restaurant bills itself as an "elite adult club and steak house," located on North Congress Avenue in West Palm Beach. Until recently, some of its fliers featured a silhouette reminiscent of the iconic scene from "The Seven Year Itch" in which Monroe's skirt is blown from a blast of air coming from a subway vent.
A manager at the West Palm Beach club, who identified himself only as John, said the business has stopped using the skirt silhouette, but denied the club is trying to profit from the memory of Marilyn Monroe. The club uses images of numerous 1950s stars, including Lana Turner, Bettie Page and the Rat Pack, he said.
"Monroe," he said, was the name of the club owner's cat, and the name was chosen in jest as a challenge to Rachel's, a rival strip club believed to be named after its owner's cat.
The club's Twitter account shows the close-up image of a woman's face bearing the actress's trademark mole _ but on the opposite cheek.
A lookalike was dressed as the actress during the club's grand opening last year, and one of the club's slogans is a quip widely attributed to Marilyn Monroe: "Who said nights were for sleep?"
The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.