Baby, Can I Trademark that Name?

I have a LOT of friends with soon-to-be or just had newly hatched babies.  It does not make me an expert on anything more than picking out a great present, but I have learned one big thing.  Moms and Dads want originality in their baby name.  They do not want to spend hours laboring (pardon the pun) in crafting a name only to find out there will be about four Emmas in their preschool class because the name is on the most popular baby name list.  Their little bundle of joy is special, and they want a name that reflects the uniqueness.  I get it.


My godson Luca. Have you ever seen a cuter kid? I’m slightly obsessed with him.

Recently, a girlfriend of mine found out another friend intended to name her child the same name my friend penned many years ago.  There was shock.  There was disappointment.  There was the phone call to me saying, “Can I trademark my baby name and stop others from using it.”  Yes, maybe, but probably not.

Names can be subject to trademark protection.  Think Oprah, Elvis, Madonna or maybe Ryanne one day.  The purpose of trademark law and trademark protection is to protect the marketplace.  It allows consumers to identify the source of goods and services.  Consumers need to be able to assume and rely that products bearing similar trademarks are from the same source and the quality can be consistent.  Unlike copyright law, it is not interested in protecting the creativeness of a brand or mark.

The theory and purpose of trademark law leads to the conclusion that for a name to receive trademark protection then it must be tied to a good, service, company, or product.  A baby name, while creative, probably will be unable to receive trademark protection until it develops secondary meaning and/or is tied to a good, service or product.  We saw this example with Blue Ivy, the child of Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

Shortly after Blue was born, Jay-Z and Beyoncé filed a trademark application to trademark the name Blue Ivy that would be associated with a line of children’s clothes.  The celebrity music couple lost the case to Blue Ivy Events from Boston who had been using the name since 2009.  What does that mean for Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Blue Ivy?

While the event company has the official trademark for Blue Ivy it does not stop Beyoncé and Jay-Z from creating other products that might use their child’s name in the future.  It is the reason you can have Delta airlines and Delta faucets.  The power music couple could not own an event company and use the mark, but they could think about possible other products.

Apple, Corny, Blanket, Joseph, Katie and Emma are all special children; however,, they still may not be able to receive trademark protection.  Now, I’m off to trademark ‘Ryanne’ … just kidding.  What do you think?  Take part in the Comments section below and Stay Tuned In!

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4 thoughts on “Baby, Can I Trademark that Name?

  1. Ryanne

    What a great pun and a helpful article.

    You rock.

    Jim Rosenblatt Dean *Emeritus* and Professor of Law Mississippi College School of Law (MC Law) “Let Justice Roll”

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