Your celebrity clients have a financial stake in the distinctive nature of their image and talent — and they don’t want unauthorized marketing that could dilute that value. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office offers an inexpensive solution to protect your clients from association with services, products or people that undermine or take unfair advantage of their image. Great! So what can you trademark? It can take almost any form as long as it is can be of identified and distinguished in specific goods and services. Such as?Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte has applied to trademark his catchphrase “Jeah,” just as Paris Hilton has trademarked the saying, “That’s hot.” She sued Hallmark for using that phrase on a greeting card; they settled out of court in 2010. According to XFINITY, Michael Buffer has earned more than $400 million of of, “Let’s get ready to rumble.” But Donald Trump, intending to imprint his catchphrase on all kinds of merchandise, was rejected when he tried to trademark, “You’re fired!” NFL quarterback Tim Tebow owns the trademark for his knee-down prayer stance, tebowing, so it’s unsurprising that Anthony Davis, a New Orleans Hornets baseketball player, trademarked the phrases, “Fear the brow” and “Raise the brow” in evoking his uni-brow look. The New York Post reports that business savvy rapper 50 Cent, ne Curtis Jackson, sued Taco Bell for $4 million for trademark infringement in 2008 when the restaurant chain used an open letter to him as an advertising ploy. Fitty claimed they misused his endorsement when he had deals with Right Guard, Vitamin Water/Coca Cola, Steiner Sports and Reebok. They settled for an undisclosed sum.
So if you have celebrity clients known for traits, terms or actions distinctive, good or bad, consider a trademark to increase their revenue through licensing for merchandise; give those personalities even wider exposure through branding;, and preserve legal avenues for protection against misuse of endorsement. The Lanham Act, in Title 15 of the U.S. Code, details the federal statutes governing trademarks; there also are common law and state statutes. Specifics for trademark application can be found in the Rules of Practice.