Long gone are the days where the first registration of your child’s name was on their birth certificate. On 26 June 2017, US Trade Mark Application Numbers 87506186 and 87506188 were filed for the names of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Shawn ‘Jay-Z’ Carter’s newborn twins ‘Rumi Carter’ and ‘Sir Carter’ by Beyoncé’s holding company, BGK Trademark Holdings.
The trademark applications have been filed in a variety of categories, for goods including fragrances, cosmetics, key rings, baby teething rings, buggies, mugs, water bottles, hair ribbons, playing cards, bags, sports balls, rattles and novelty items packaged in the twins’ names.
This was not the Carters’ first dealing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In January 2012, the Carters filed a similar trade mark application for their eldest daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, in a range of trademark categories. The United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected the Carters’ application due to a likelihood of confusion with another registered trademark, Blue Ivy Events, and a lack of intent to use.
In Australia, a person can register his or her first name, surname, full name or signature as a trade mark if it is linked to goods or services, and if it distinguishes those goods and services. Australians in the past including Dick Smith, Sir Donald Bradman, Kylie Minogue and Ken Done have had their name as registered trade marks.
Beyoncé’s somewhat unconventional name choices may have been a tactical move in registering her trademarks for the twins. IP Australia will oppose trade marks that are already registered, or are similar to marks already registered in Australia. Fortunately for the Carters, ‘Rumi Carter’ and ‘Sir Carter’ have not yet been registered with IP Australia. IP Australia may also oppose marks that are considered to be conventional or common names, as a requirement for trade mark registration in Australia is that it ‘inherently capable of distinguishing’ the good or service.
So in answer to the age old question ‘what’s in a name?’ in Australia the answer may lie in section 17 of the Trade Marks Act 1995. Accordingly, if the Carters were to file for similar marks in Australia, they would be entitled to use the twins’ names to distinguish goods or services in the course of trade before the twins are old enough to ‘Run the World’.