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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Amicus brief filed in Clemente family intellectual property challenge

By The Star Staff

The Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free market think tank, filed an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on behalf of the Clemente family challenging what it said is the Puerto Rican government’s improper and unconstitutional use of baseball legend Roberto Clemente’s trademark on specialty license plates.

Immediately afterwards, the Puerto Rico Institute for Economic Liberty (ILE by its initials in Spanish) filed an amicus brief supporting the legal action of the Clemente family.

ILE filed the amicus brief due to the implications of the governmental action, which it says deprives the Clemente family of fundamental property rights protected by the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause. The image rights of Clemente, a national hero in Puerto Rico who was born and raised in the San Antón barrio of Carolina, are the private property of his family, and private property is inseparable from economic freedom, the ILE said.

The Puerto Rico government earned some $15 million from the unauthorized use of Roberto Clemente’s trademark without permission from his three children and refused to compensate them for the unauthorized use, according to the legal appeal by the Beacon Center against the commonwealth government. The appeal aims to set a precedent in the United States regarding rightful compensation when the government uses someone’s private property, whether intellectual or physical, without permission, the group said in a press release.

“We’re honored to represent Roberto Clemente’s family and legacy in a case to protect the rights of property owners nationwide,” Beacon Center Director of Legal Affairs Wen Fa said. “We’re asking the court to apply the ‘you-break-it-you-buy-it’ rule to the government. If the government takes your property, it should have to pay.”

ILE Legal Affairs Director Arturo V. Bauermeister stated: “We understood it was essential as a Puerto Rican civil organization and free market think tank to file an amicus brief in this case and express our concern about the Government of Puerto Rico’s actions against the right to private property.”

“If they did this to the Clemente family, they could do it to anyone,” he added.

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