Sarah Palin: Trademarks for celebrities

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Recently Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate for the Republicans in 2008, has moved to try to trademark her and her daughter’s name.

Palin’s motivation

Palin stated that the aim in trade marking her name was for motivational speaking. She views herself as being a brand due to her speeches, books, and her “reality” TV show.

So, Palin now wants to turn herself into an actual economic brand and applied to trade mark her name back in November of last year. Sarah Palin’s trademark was filed under two separate classifications. One was for “providing a website featuring information about political issues” and “educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values.”

Also Sarah Palin’s 20 year old daughter has become famous through her reality show Dancing with the Stars and her engagement for Candie’s Foundation as a well-compensated spokeswomen on sexual abstinence. Bristol filed her trade mark for “educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of life choices.”

Status of the applications

The Palin trade mark applications are not granted yet. There are a few issues which have to be clarified. On the one hand the competent trademark office needs further evidence of the commercial use of both the trademarks. On the other hand, both applications have been rejected due to lack of signature.

Thus it remains to be seen whether Palin can protect her and her daughter’s name as registered trademark.

Trade mark registration for personal names?

It is not uncommon for celebrities to trademark their names to protect themselves as a brand. For example celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Michael Jackson have trademarked their names in order to prevent third parties from using and exploiting their names or likeness. Currently, it is not so common for those in politics to trademark their name even if they may have the same interests in their names.

In general, personal names are capable of being registered as trademarks. The law does not distinguish between the names of celebrities and the names of people who are not celebrities. Hence, celebrities have no greater entitlement to register their names as trademarks than anyone else.

This case highlights that a successful trade mark application needs good preparation and care to avoid rejection or even refusal of the trade mark application unnecessarily.