Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man ever to walk on the moon, is suing the trading card giant Topps for using a photo of him taken on his historic moonwalk as part of a recent series of collectable cards, according to news reports.
After being unable to negotiate a licensing fee for the image, the 80-year old Aldrin filed a lawsuit against Topps in a Los Angeles federal court on Monday (Dec. 27), "contending that the trading card company had unjustly profited from his historic achievement by including a photograph of the Apollo 11 mission in a series of trading cards," according to a Los Angeles Times report.
The NASA image in question appears in Topps' "American Heroes" series of collector cards, which was released in 2009.
Michael Kahn, the attorney representing Topps, claims the company's right to include Aldrin's image in the historic event falls under the First Amendment.
"Topps included Dr. Aldrin within the 'American Heroes' edition because it believes he is an American hero and is thus proud to be able to share such information with its audience," Kahn wrote in a letter dated April 15 to Aldrin's law firm.
Aldrin became the second man to step foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, when he and Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong landed their craft, called Eagle, on lunar surface to make the first manned moon landing. Their third Apollo 11 crewmate, Michael Collins remained in orbit aboard the mission's command module Columbia.
Since then, he has carefully protected his image and intellectual property rights. In this case, Aldrin argues that the use of his image is adding value to a commercial product.
Aldrin's lawyers have issued a warning to Topps that they have successfully helped the astronaut obtain more than $760,000 in legal settlements from other companies that have used his image on books, software packaging and trading cards, the L.A. Times reported.