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How Robin Williams stopped companies from exploiting his image for the next 25 years

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 04:  Robin Williams arrives at the Happy Feet 2 Australian Premiere at Hoyts Cinema on December 4, 2011 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 04: Robin Williams arrives at the Happy Feet 2 Australian Premiere at Hoyts Cinema on December 4, 2011 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The next time you will see Robin Williams, the legendary comedian and actor who died in 2014, in a commercial will be 2039.

This is due to a savvy legal move. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Robin Williams Trust leaves the rights to his name, photograph, and likeness to an organization known as the Windfall Foundation. That trust also ensures no one can use his likeness for 25 years.

This, ostensibly, means that no one, including his family, will be able to make money off of Williams's name and image.

That's a good thing. The reason? The financial problems plaguing Michael Jackson's family. The Hollywood Reporter writes:

According to insiders, this appears to be a direct reaction to a dispute happening at the moment between the estate of Michael Jackson and the IRS over how to value the late singer's publicity rights for estate tax purposes. The federal government claims the King of Pop's estate owes more than $500 million in taxes from his publicity rights and must also pay almost $200 million more in penalties.