The concept of blogging as a business is a recently new phenomenon. Similarly, the concept of video blogging (vlogging) has emerged from the realm of social media to become one of the newest ways to make a living. Once considered recreational, the business of blogging and vlogging is becoming more and more mainstream. From internationally recognised lifestyle blogs operated by Hollywood actresses to the Youtube make-up tutor, blogging and vlogging has become a staple of the social media generation.
The internet is inundated with blogs and vlogs with a myriad of different names ranging from personal names to the weird and wonderful coined phrases and while the majority of those blogs and vlogs remain for personal or recreational use, some have developed into profitable businesses. For example, since starting her own Youtube channel in 2009, Zoe Snugg, aka Zoella, has turned her personal video blogs into a lucrative and famous brand, gaining over 10 million subscribers, winning international vlogging awards and recently branching out into the world of publishing (see https://www.youtube.com/user/zoella280390).
However, although blogging and vlogging as a business is relatively new, the existing principles of intellectual property still apply and should not be ignored. The definition of a trade mark is “any sign which is capable of being represented graphically” and their purpose is to distinguish goods and services of one undertaking from those of another. Blog and vlog names therefore clearly fall within the definition of a trade mark and consequently should be protected as such.
There is a common misconception that registration of a company or business name or that ownership of a domain name will automatically grant exclusive rights in that name. However, this is not the case. The only way to secure exclusive rights in a particular Trade Mark is by registering the name as a Trade Mark in each country of interest. By registering the blog or vlog name, third parties are prevented from using or seeking to register an identical or confusingly similar mark for similar goods and services. Take the example referred to above, the name ZOELLA is a registered Trade Mark in the UK and the European Union and is registered not only in respect of blogging and vlogging but also in relation to a wide range of goods and services including cosmetics, retail services and beauty services. Consequently, third parties are prohibited from using this Mark, or something confusingly similar, for such goods and services. In the absence of a valid Registration, it will be necessary to rely on the tort of passing-off, which is a more complex and costly form of redress against a third party who starts using an identical or confusingly similar Trade Mark.
Therefore, whether your blog or vlog is in its infancy or at its peak, protecting the name as a Trade Mark should be given due consideration.