From Paris Hilton to Taylor Swift: Why do celebrities register trademarks and how does it work?

Hollywood and the United States Patent and Trademark Office should not be soul mates. One dances to the unpredictable beat of the rich and famous, the other follows the slow, steady hum of bureaucracy. One is supposedly dazzling, glamorous, and the stuff of fantasies; the other is a sobering arena where paperwork is processed and archived and intellectual property is regulated.

However, a romance has been blossoming between the two for decades. The matchmakers? The celebrities themselves. Ralph Lauren registered a trademark in his name in the 1970s; Madonna did the same in the 1980s. Since then, famous people have been known to trademark not only their own names, but also their children’s names, catchphrases they have popularized, and other words and phrases related to their activities.

A recent example arose when Archewell Audio LLC, one of the structures used by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (which has partnered with Spotify to produce podcasts) recently applied for a trademark registration for Archetypes, the name of Meghan’s next program on the streaming platform. Kate Cheney, director of trademarks at the Clarke Willmott law firm, said news week requesting registration “makes very good business sense” and should be standard practice.

How does it work?

Archewell Audio LLC filed the trademark registration application on March 26, 2022. You have been accepted and will be assigned to an examiner. The attorney of record in the application is Marjorie Witter Norman, who has handled previous trademark registrations for The Tig, Meghan’s lifestyle website that she maintained prior to her engagement and wedding to Harry.

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Filing a trademark registration does not mean that the person making the filing claims complete and absolute ownership of the word or phrase in question. Rather, it creates a level of protection within the context of specific activities. This, in turn, can be useful in the event of a dispute.

“A common misconception is that having a trademark means that you legally own a particular word or phrase and can prevent others from using it,” explains the US Patent and Trademark Office on its own website. “However, you have no rights to the word or phrase in general, only to how that word or phrase is used with your specific products or services.”

The trademark application for Archetypes, for example, includes a long list of specifications indicating that it would apply, for example, to “downloadable audio recordings and podcasts, all in the fields of cultural treatment of women and stereotypes.” towards women”, among other categories of content.

Filing an application to register a trademark does not mean that it will necessarily be processed, nor that it will last forever. A 2008 application by hairstylist Rachel Zoe to register a trademark for her catchphrase “I die” is currently listed as abandoned in 2013. A decade ago, New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow filed an application to register a trademark for “Tebowing,” a word used to refer to the way Tebow would kneel on one knee to pray on the field during games. The application is listed as filed in 2011 and canceled in 2019.

Pop culture

But of course many applicants are successful and have maintained their trademark registrations to this day. In 2004, Paris Hilton applied for a trademark registration for her slogan “That’s Hot” in the context of “multimedia entertainment services in the nature of recording, production and post-production services in the fields of music, video and cinema”. Registration was made in 2007 and remains active.

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Similarly, in 2014, Taylor Swift moved to register a trademark for “This Sick Beat” (a lyric excerpt from her song “Shake It Off,” released that same year). The registration was made in 2017. The same timeline applies to an application to register a trademark for another phrase, “Nice to meet you. Where have you been?”, This time taken from her song “Blank Space”.

Politics

In 2012, Donald Trump had decided not to seek the Republican nomination in the presidential election. But that same year, he filed an application to register a trademark for “Make America Great Again,” which became his campaign slogan in 2016. The filing date listed is November 19, 2012, just a few days after the elections in which Barack Obama was elected to office. a second term in the White House.

generations

Some celebrities have tried to give their children a level of protection by registering trademarks for their names. For example, there are applications to register trademarks for the three children of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Blue Ivy Carter, Rumi Carter and Sir Carter.

The same goes for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s children, North West, Saint West, Chicago West and Psalm West.

In 2013, Jay-Z told him vanity fair he and Beyoncé decided to trademark the Blue Ivy name so that others would not try to profit commercially from it.

“People wanted to make products based on our child’s name,” she told the magazine, “and you don’t want anyone trying to profit from your baby’s name. It was not for us to do anything; As you can see, we haven’t done anything.

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