The Princess And The Pirates

Knickknack manufacturers who have been cashing in on Diana may soon be hearing from her heirs' lawyers. The estate of the Princess plans to move aggressively to protect the intellectual-property rights to her image. "We are planning to go after the bigger, nastier, more commercial people in each jurisdiction in hopes that others will take notice," says A.G. Dobson, a solicitor at the London firm of Lawrence Graham. Dobson says the estate, whose beneficiaries are Princes William, 15, and Harry, 13, has no wish to profit from Diana's image. But it does want to make sure it is used tastefully. It also wants to establish the right to direct any proceeds to charities the estate chooses.

Dobson says the estate has registered "rights of publicity" to Diana's image in some U.S. states. It has also registered about 50 images of Diana in Britain as trademarks. Diana's executors, her sister and mother, will decide which uses are appropriate. Potentially lucrative uses, such as soft-drink ads, are unlikely to be approved.