Celebrity Trademark Watch: Is It Possible to Hip Hop to the Front of the Line?

Foley Hoag LLP - Trademark, Copyright & Unfair Competition

Every now and then celebrities enjoy perks that you and I can only dream about. For the world’s newest music celebrity, Blue Ivy Carter, this is doubtless true as she has recently gotten some unusual white glove service from a government agency -- something we all wish we could get the next time we’re at the registry of motor vehicles. Nonetheless, the life of a celebrity is not all glamour and fancy parties. For every moment an actor or musician spends basking in the spotlight, she or he spends countless hours auditioning, rehearsing, touring, and, in the earlier days, struggling to establish a career (that is unless you happen to be a Kardashian). And once you’ve “made it,” a host of unanticipated time-intensive demands rush in to fill the void left by your now-departed anonymity -- agents, managers, interviews, security, executives, acolytes, and, of course, managing your growing trademark portfolio. Let’s not forget, after all, that in Show Business the term “business” is perhaps the more operative word. Celebrities, like all other business folk, offer goods and services to their fans/customers. So, just like any goods manufacturer or service provider, a famous singer needs to protect her brand by enforcing her intellectual property rights, including obtaining federal trademark registrations. How else is a relatively new artist like the very recent six-time Grammy Award winning Adele supposed to ensure someone else doesn’t start touring under the same name? Registering your stage name as a trademark is a good first step - and no need to worry, Adele’s application is currently pending at the Patent and Trademark Office. Which is a good thing, because when you’re famous it seems people often line up to get a piece of your action, including trying to beat you in the race to the PTO’s Principal Register. If you have any doubts, just ask the Carters.

On January 7, 2012, Mr. and Mrs. Shawn C. Carter celebrated the birth of their daughter, Blue Ivy, in New York City (pics of the happy family available here). Four days later an application for the mark BLUE IVY CARTER NYC for children’s clothing was filed with the PTO. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the application claimed January 9th as the date of first use. The Carters, more commonly known in international circles as Jay-Z and Beyoncé, were just getting to know their new little bundle of joy while the ink was still drying on the application filed by a gentleman in New Jersey. And before you could say “Destiny’s Child,” another application for BLUE IVY CARTER GLORY IV was filed by a company in New York for use in connection with fragrance and beauty products.

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