Should You Trademark Your Baby’s Name?

Beyonce and Jay-Z took unique celebrity baby naming one step further last week when they moved to trademark infant daughter Blue Ivy Carter’s name.  Parents have a right to trademark their minor children’s names, according to U.S. law, but the name has to be both distinctive and connected to some expectation of commercial enterprise.

If Beyonce and Jay-Z had named their daughter Jennifer, say, she’d be one of nearly 2000 Jennifer Carters in the U.S. and it would be difficult to prove that someone selling Jennifer Carter crib bumpers was trying to trade on the name of their little Jennifer Carter.  But when other entrepreneurs rushed to trademark the name Blue Ivy, Beyonce and Jay-Z made a preemptive move to protect their daughter’s unusual moniker from outside exploitation.

We can only guess that trademarking the name Blue Ivy will have repercussions among other celebrity parents.  We foresee more celebrities choosing ever more distinctive names for their children, to strengthen their case for trademark protection.  And we predict that they will then claim exclusive legal rights to those baby names.

Does the trademark mean that you can’t name your child Blue Ivy?  No, but if Blue Ivy Messerschmidt grows up and wants to open a Blue Ivy Restaurant or design a line of Blue Ivy clothing, she might find herself facing a lawsuit.

A search through the trademark office’s records shows that other celebrities have claimed trademark rights to their distinctive names.  Dweezil Zappa, for one, along with his sister Moon Unit.  Elvis Presley, and Beyonce herself.

But there’s no record of other famously unique celebrity baby names gaining trademark status.  Some prime young candidates for name trademark protection:

BEAR BLU/Alicia Silverstone

Bear Blu got onto a lot of Worst Celeb Names of 2011 lists, but Alicia Silverstone was obviously ahead of the curve with both a wild animal name in first place and a color name in the middle.  Jamie Oliver is too late; his son Buddy Bear’s name has already been trademarked by an animation company.

LOCKLYN KYLA/Vince Vaughn

There may be other Lachlans, but they’re mostly male and not given this phonetic spelling, and so the Vaughns would have a case for trademark protection for the feminine Locklyn Kyla.  While Lachlan has never made it into the Top 200 name in this country, it is wildly popular in Australia, where it is currently Number 3.

MOROCCAN SCOTT/Mariah Carey

Since Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon’s twin son was named for the exotic décor of the area of his parents’ digs in which Nick proposed, this would be an obvious name to be trademarked and used for—yes—a line of exotic Moorish hand-carved, mosaic-encrusted baby furniture.  Place names are common—Mike Tyson recently christened his son Morocco—but it’s rare to see the adjective form used.  What’s next?  Venetian? Viennese?  Egyptian?

SURI/Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes

There are several Suri trademarks on file, but none for the famous little girl with the singular exotic name, which has oddly escaped widespread imitation.  We suggest a line of Suri high heels in children’s sizes, toddler lipsticks, or party dresses.

MOXIE CRIMEFIGHTER/Penn Jillette

There are a lot of trademarked products with the word Moxie in the title, from candies to cleansing products, but there’s no Moxie Crimefighter.  This name should be trademarked for Ms. Jillette lest someone use it for a detective agency or cartoon superhero.

 

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

comments

19 Responses to “Should You Trademark Your Baby’s Name?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

SuperMrsPackman Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 12:36 am

I think if they want to trademark the name Blue Ivy, fine. I think its a horribly awful name and I don’t know anyone else who could pull it off as well as they could.

Sarah.Jane Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 8:14 am

I think it is complete ego on their part. Do they really think there has never been another child named Blue Ivy before?

chelseamae Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 8:24 am

My first reaction was that is was a bit outrageous. Then I found out that within hours of her birth there had been other submissions for a tradmark under her full name “Blue Ivy Carter” for a fragrance and some other clothing line. In their case, people are trying to take advantage of her name and the family in order to make a profit for themselves by making appear like they are approving the product when they are aren’t. This is not a fair or honest way of making money in my opinion.

pam Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 8:28 am

Chelseamae, I think you nailed it. The fact is that celebrity babies and their names have become such big business that the parents need to protect their commercial use, whether they intend to trade on it or not.

Sarah.Jane Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 9:07 am

Okay I can see trade marking Blue Ivy Carter, because the is specific, but Blue Ivy sounds like a good make for a flower shop.

Lola Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 9:13 am

I too think it’s a ridiculous move, but I would never think to call *anything* Blue Ivy Carter, blech. To each his own!

luckymomma Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 10:41 am

Given these details, I can understand why they did it. On a related note, my techie husband bought each of my kids their URL when they born (so RonanELastname.com). He just holds them for a few dollars a year so if the kids want to use them as email addresses or more in the future, they’re available.

Kibby Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 11:54 am

As the parents, they have the right to control what their daughters name gets plastered to, not some other group of people who just want it to cash in and put it on anything! Good on Beyonce and Jay-Z for this one, even if it does seem to be a bit egotistical, they are doing what’s best in the name of their daughter.

Pansy Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I thought it was Blue Ivy Carter they were trying to get trademarked, not Blue Ivy. Either way, I think it’s ridiculous.

moxielove Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Chelseamae — I totally agree. My first thought was “How egotistical AND tacky to already be thinking about selling stuff using their baby’s name!” but then realized that they are maybe just protecting their daughter.

That said, if there is another little girl named Blue Ivy who wants to open her Blue Ivy Restaurant, they better let her do it b/c it’s her name too! If they did sue that would be horrible.

Martina Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

There are already at least two companies with the name Blue Ivy. I think one is a wedding business and one is a clothing store. Both places were around before this child was even born. I surely hope these companies won’t get the short end of the stick. Especially since they were in business before the baby was.

pam Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Martina, the news stories have said that these companies will be able to conduct their businesses under their names going forward. It is interesting to go to the trademark registration site — the link is in the blog — and see which celebrity names are trademarked, for what purposes. You have to specify the business you’re trademarking the name for, although it can be somewhat broad.

rollo Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I am shocked and disappointed at this development. A child is not a commodity.

Sassy Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I think it’s a little ridiculous but I do understand that they are trying to protect their child from being exploited.

miloowen Says:

February 14th, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Just so they can exploit their child themselves, the same way they took over Lenox Hill, which has seen many celebrity births but had never been hijacked before. Personally, I don’t “get” brands and would never buy theirs. Blue Ivy, indeed. Poor little kid.

LexieM Says:

May 21st, 2012 at 11:12 pm

I think trademarking to protect the kid is great and right now probably necessary. As long as the trademark will belong to the child not the parents.

Though short side story. I have a child hood friend whose parents opened up a clothing line under her name when she was about four. She was so confused by this that she started telling people her name was Mary instead of what it really was. After about a year they re-branded the company under a different name because of how she reacted.

So copywrighting your childs name could be difficult. That said if it is rather unique like Blue Ivy and not Sarah Elizabeth it’s probably worth it. That said my middle names are both common names for two very different parts of the world. So far I have not be able to find anyone with the specific combination. And I have stalked the inter-webs a lot. (That said I’m not Jay-Z famous).

ajenemie Says:

August 11th, 2012 at 10:39 am

There is a child out there who will be walking around with the name Buddy Bear? And he’ll grow up with that name? Oh, god. I don’t care how cute or capable of making a good dinner Jamie Oliver is, that is by far the most tasteless naming job ever done to a living human being.

ajenemie Says:

August 11th, 2012 at 10:41 am

Oh, and love Moxie Crimefighter. Penn Jillette is pretty much my idol.

larkub101 Says:

February 6th, 2013 at 4:51 pm

So what if someone already had a restaurant called Blue Ivy or something? Would they be forced to change the name? ‘Cause that would just dumb. Honestly I think this is just a frivolous, to trademark a name.

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.