B.J. Novak’s Face Is on Merchandise Worldwide. He’s Not Certain Why.

For the previous couple of years, any Swedes who bought a bottle of Calvin Klein’s Encounter cologne had been most likely greeted by the piercing gaze of an American actor.

Similar for anybody who bought sure manufacturers of face paint in Uruguay, electrical razors in China or knee-length ponchos in Europe.

One thing in regards to the man’s acquainted countenance enchanted product makers from all over the world, who selected his inventory picture out of hundreds of thousands to function on their packaging. However the man within the image, B.J. Novak, a 42-year-old actor greatest identified for his position on “The Workplace,” didn’t select to be the face of fragrance or face paint or ponchos.

Another person selected his image after which uploaded it “years in the past” to a web site the place Mr. Novak believes it turned a part of the general public area, he mentioned on Instagram on Monday. It couldn’t be decided who took the unique image.

Although he has had different initiatives in movie and on tv, together with “The Premise,” the FX on Hulu anthology sequence, he’s greatest identified for the character Ryan Howard, who rose from a much-abused temp to a company govt for the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Firm. Off digicam, Mr. Novak was a author, director and govt producer for the nine-season hit NBC sitcom, based mostly on the British sequence of the identical identify.

Mr. Novak gave the impression to be taking his inventory picture fame with good humor. On Instagram, the place he posted the photographs of himself on varied product packages, he saved the pictures in a group he known as “modeling.” He couldn’t be reached for additional remark by way of his representatives.

The actor Simu Liu has usually joked in regards to the time he modeled for inventory photographs in 2014. He mentioned he was paid $120 to shoot the photographs, which have since appeared in every thing from textbooks to Y.M.C.A. fliers. “That inventory picture shoot at all times finds a method to come again and hang-out me LOL,” Mr. Liu mentioned on Twitter in 2018.

Almost certainly, Mr. Novak has not made any cash off the usage of his image. The rights to a photograph usually belong to the one who took the image, except they’ve been transferred in a roundabout way. The historical past of this image couldn’t be decided.

However Marc Misthal, a principal lawyer at Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman, a New York legislation agency, mentioned that, no less than in america, Mr. Novak has quite a lot of potential authorized choices to pursue — if he desires to.

His lawyer can ship cease-and-desist letters to the businesses that used his picture, or he can escalate the matter by suing the businesses, mentioned Mr. Misthal, who makes a speciality of copyright and trademark legislation.

Nonetheless, Mr. Misthal mentioned he thinks the actor is extra prone to pursue a case in opposition to the businesses who made cash off the picture than the one who uploaded the image to a public area web site.

“It’s actually the truth that his face or likeness is related to a selected product, as a result of they’re utilizing his likeness to be able to appeal to prospects and mainly become profitable,” Mr. Misthal mentioned.

However, if Mr. Novak’s Instagram publish on Monday is any indication, he has no plans to take authorized motion in opposition to anybody.

“I’m too amused to do something about it,” he wrote.

He has identified about his double life as a “mannequin” since no less than 2014, when he posted a photograph on Instagram of his image on cologne bins, displaying 5 units of his eyeballs staring down Swedish buyers.

He joked on the time, “I’m #blessed to announce the launch of my perfume, accessible now in a Swedish division retailer.”

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