Archive for February 2012
A recent inquiry raised the topic of personal branding and trademarks. Favorable feedback from the inquiring person on my discussion of a commercial aspect of trademarks, motivated me to share the following summary. For my earlier primer on trademarks, please see here.
In a context of personal brands, the inquiry had asked when an individual should consider trademarking their own name. A further question asked about benefits of trademarking a person’s name, and consequent contributions of the trademark to building of a personal brand.
Redirection of Flow
I had replied:
A main apparent misalignment from your first and second substantive questions implies a person may choose to immediately register a trademark on their way to developing branding. A subordinate apparent misalignment results from the trademark needing to serve as a source identifier for goods or services; so, simply identifying a person rather than identifying the person as a source of particular goods or services in commerce wouldn’t constitute a trademark use needed for registration of their name.
Having a choice for registration on the Principal Register right off the bat would be a rare situation of a surname *not* being primarily merely a surname, in which case the surname would have already acquired distinctiveness in the public’s perception as a trademark.
For a next step, I had offered:
I could walk a person through a discussion of applying for registration on the Supplemental Register on their way to seeking registration on the Principal Register.
On my end, review had included the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP) §1211 Refusal on Basis of Surname.
Before additional use of my time for review, I had presented the above feedback and revisited with the person:
I have performed preliminary review and want to check with you on your preference for direction, particularly with your first and second substantive questions, relative to the approach under US Trademark Law.
Lesson Brought Home
From my explanation above, the person saw trademarks involved use in commerce. The person could correct their orientation and understand an individual could develop the individual’s personal brand, while “use in commerce” could present a gap for the individual’s further consideration of pursuing a trademark on that individual’s name.
Text Copyright © 2012 Bob Brill