This article has been submitted by Greenaway Scott
When it comes to business, intellectual property can often be overlooked.
However, trademarks, copyright, and design protection are absolutely crucial when it comes to protecting a brand’s identity.
Businesses invest significant funds and time in researching methods to set their brand apart to ensure marketability and profitability.
Therefore, it is always advisable to protect this investment, and consequent profitability with intellectual property.
One of the most commonly disputed areas of intellectual property are trademarks.
A trademark offers legal protection to any symbols, words, slogans, or titles which have been created by the businesses in relation to the brand.
Without protection, a businesses could be left vulnerable to infringement by competitors. It could for example, see its development halted if someone else registers a trademark ahead of it, or it could be targeted by overseas businesses looking to exploit the established brand at a significantly reduced cost.
By investing in trademark protection from the initial stages of development, businesses are fully protected and can legally take action against any “copycats”, competitors, and can protect themselves against any infringement claims from other companies.
But what if the brand you wish to trademark is your name?
Increasingly, the media is reporting disputes from celebrities in relation to trademarking their own name.
Celebrities rely on the ability to market their name as a brand in order to secure certain contracts and use this freely in film promotion and other business affairs.
Meryl Streep is the most recent of a long list of celebrities to apply for the trademark of their name. The other celebrities who have successfully trademarked their names include Sean Connery, Paris Hilton, 50 Cent, David and Victoria Beckham and their children.
Meryl has applied for the trademark of her name at the US Trademark Office. If she is granted the trademark she will be entitled to exclusive rights to the use of her name in the entertainment industry. This is also referred to as a monopoly right. It ensures that the celebrities’ image and right to exploit it is protected.
When a trademark is granted it does not mean that the celebrity has all the encompassing rights to their name. It is only limited to the function of the trademark which is the origin of the goods. To ensure protection is continued it is necessary that the public associates the name with the goods/services for which it is registered.
The trademarked celebrity name must also be put to genuine use or it will be revoked. For example, Victoria Beckham’s daughter Harper must start her career in entertainment services by the age of 10 to keep her trademark in that class.
Whether you are in the entertainment industry and want to protect your name or a business looking to protect your business interests, it is important that you take the right legal advice to ensure that your intellectual property is appropriately protected.
If you would like advice on protecting your intellectual property please contact the Commercial and IP team by emailing [email protected].