This is an approximate transcript of my video Do I have to be a celebrity to trademark my name? found on YouTube. In this blog when we talk about needing to obtain a copyright or trademark, we are talking about obtaining federal registration from the US Copyright Office at copyright.gov or the United States Patent and Trademark Office at uspto.gov.
Good afternoon. It is Thursday once again and we are sharing our Thursday Thoughts. If you are new here my name is Adjckwc O. Browne Esquire, I am the founder of Browne Law. Every Thursday I am giving my thoughts on questions that are asked to me. Every Wednesday you’ll find my story an opportunity to ask questions and then I go live and answer them. That is what we are doing right now. Today’s question is -Do I have to be a celebrity to trademark my name? So, the short answer to that question is no. No, you do not however, it is much easier if you have already gained notoriety for your name in commerce in order to receive a registered trademark. Let me just say this, if you have used your name for your fashion line or for your business and it has what we term acquired distinctiveness then you are good to go.
Using the last name Marks as an example if your last name is Marks and people when they think of the last name Marks really only think of it being a last name then you won’t get approved for a registered trademark. But if your last name is say Fenty and you put that in the market in several different categories and it becomes known for those categories (make up, fashion, etc.) then you can obtain a registered trademark. You don’t have to be a celebrity but your name has to have been used in business in some way and then also to the next step had acquired distinctiveness. So, it’s possible. It is not the easiest route, but if you are an entertainer, if you’re an artist, if your name itself is really your brand then you should look into acquiring a federal trademark registration. On the other hand if you’re just starting a business and you’re thinking about the best way to create a brand that is known in the marketplace and easily registrable and easily protectable you want to make up a name. Really that is the best and most easily protectable brand. It is also the best to keep infringers from profiting off of when you create a new name. Think Google – Alphabet Inc. has Google. Google is renowned for maps, for Internet searching, etc. but it’s really just a made-up word. They created this brand awareness around this word and it would be very difficult for me or anyone else to pretend that I am the owner of that brand because it’s so unique and distinctive. If you are just start out or thinking about creating a new business think about naming your product or your business brand with something that you’ve created all on your own. Secondly, using another well-known example, take a word that exists and give it a new meaning. Apple- using that as an example. When you think of Apple you think computers, cell phones, and really you know that an apple is a fruit but those products come to mind. They’ve taken a word that exists and given it its own unique meaning and attribution in the marketplace and it is so strong that you nor I could go out and confuse consumers to think that we were the creators of Apple. It is such a strong brand even though an apple is still and apple. When it comes to business when you hear Apple you think about iPhone, IMac, IPad, Ipod etc. For those who haven’t begun already and are thinking about the best ways to create a brand that can be strong, will last, and keep infringers away the best way is to create something that is new and unique and then make the market know what it is that you bring to the table through that new and unique brand.
Back to the original question to recap the answer you don’t have to be a celebrity to be able to trademark your name but you have to use in business. You have to use it in business and the market (so the consumer or whomever it is out to buy from your business) creates this knowledge and distinct awareness of your name as associated with whatever you’re producing. If my last name is Gucci clothing designers is something that I’m known for as in the house of Gucci creates this certain brand and an imagery in your mind while that may be a popular last name is still is still trademarkable or protectable if that make sense. Hopefully those are some examples that you can take and use to understand at what point that you can begin to protect your name if you’re in an industry where your business is your name or if you are an artist where you yourself are the brand. Now you understand what point you need to be at to be able to do that i.e. when it is possible. So, no don’t have to be a celebrity. Yes, you do have to use it in business. Happy to help out. I hope that this is useful to you and we will talk again soon.
A. Browne, Esq. © 2021 All rights reserved.