Many of our clients name their business ventures after themselves, or their trade name is inspired by the names of loved ones, such as their children or grandparents. So, we are often asked: Can I trademark my business name? Can I trademark my own name?
That leads to the more overarching question: What’s In a Name? As in, “what rights are in a name?” A recent trademark dispute involving two very popular Kylie’s – Kylie Jenner and Kylie Minogue – sheds light on this issue.
For non-celebrities, it is typically not possible to obtain a trademark for your personal name. Celebrities are able to secure trademarks for their monikers because they have arguably acquired what is referred to as “secondary meaning.” Secondary Meaning basically provides that their names translate to close associations with certain products, services or public profiles that generate business. Because celebrity names (whether A-list or not!) are tied to the services or products they provide, the federal government recognizes the right to protect the economic interests in these names via trademarks. Some examples include shoe and handbag lines, cosmetics, athletic apparel, and entertainment services (i.e.: concerts and appearances). Hence the battle over “Kylie.”