Can You Trademark A Name?

Actor Morgan Freeman, fashion designer and founder of DKNY, Donna Karan, and Governor Sarah Palin, have all trademarked their names. But, the Trademark Law disallows this, right? As IP lawyers or agents in Edmonton, we get a lot of queries regarding the trademark of names and surnames. Trademark registration of a name or surname is a matter of confusion for many people. Typically, the Trademark Law does not allow the registration of names and surnames. However, there are exceptions to this. Let’s look at the subject in detail.

Trademark a Personal Name

If you think that you cannot trademark a name or surname, you would generally be correct. The Canadian Trademark Law prohibits trademark registration of your personal name if it is just a name. But, if that name holds goodwill, then it may be possible to obtain trademark registration for it. If your name or surname has become renowned or your goods and services are well-known under your name or surname, then the trademark office allows registration. If the name or surname is a brand identifier, you can trademark it.

For personalities like Morgan Freeman and Donna Karan, their name holds sufficient goodwill. Thus, they can register their name as a trademark or a service mark.

But, why should you do that? After all, there are many other famous personalities who do not own any trademark rights to their name. Let’s see why you should obtain trademark registration for your name.

Should you Trademark your Name?

Obtaining trademark registration is not mandatory. Many businesses and people do not opt for Federal registration. However, trademark registration certainly offers benefits. With registration, your trademark rights are protected nationwide, and you have an enhanced ability to enforce them.

The advent of the internet has constantly challenged trademark rights. From the unauthorised use of a business name or logo for profits or registering a domain name similar to that of an artist’s, infringers and cybersquatters have given trademark owners a tough time. Cybersquatters are people who register domain names that are identical to well-known marks. They then try to sell the domain to the mark owners for an inflated amount. Today, anyone from a student to a multi-millionaire can register a domain name with ease and little expense. When your name is also a profession and holds reputation, you cannot allow the risk of cybersquatting to threaten the associated goodwill. You cannot afford to lose the trust of your fans and customers. And, this is why you should trademark your name.

Yes, unregistered marks also have rights. But, they face restrictions, including geographical limitations, when it comes to enforcing your trademark rights. With trademark registration, you can sue anyone who tries to misuse your trademark for infringement and may have an upper hand in the case.

If your name is critical to your business’ success, then you should consider trademark registration. To learn more on the subject or for any help with registration, consult an IP lawyer or agent In Edmonton today.