Registering your personal name as a trademark may be a good way to protect against people who are looking to profit from it. Some easy examples of people who likely need to trademark their names would be celebrities, since their names are used for their business, and names that are used on products, Mrs. Field’s Cookies. So, while it is possible to trademark your name, it would be smart to consider a few things before you decide to go for it.
The first thing you need before you can think about trademarking your name would be that it must be used “commerce,” meaning that it is used for some kind of business purpose to the general public. Another thing that you would have to make sure of is that other people are likely to associate your name specifically with your goods or services, such as having your last name in the business. You have to be able to actually prove that people do associate your name with those goods or services. For example, if you decide to trademark your business name that incorporates your last name, something like Peterson Media, it may be more difficult at the beginning to show that people associate the word “Peterson” with media services if it is a new company. At first, this name would likely be seen as a descriptive term just saying somebody’s name is on a media company, but, over time, if customers in the market come to know and trust the name “Peterson” when it comes to media services, then it might become a perfectly trademarkable name.
The main key here is that it really isn’t worth it to try an trademark your name for some sense of vanity or to simply “protect your name” because that is not what trademarks are meant to protect. At the end of the day, trademarks are intended to protect the consumer, not the trademark owner, so once your name is used in some kind of business that may affect consumers then, at that point, applying for a trademark in your name may be a wise decision.
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LEARN MORE: What Every Brand Owner Needs To Know About Filing a Trademark Application & Four Reasons Why Not Having a Registered Trademark Can Cost You Big Money
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Randal Robinson is an intellectual property lawyer. Randal focuses his practice on the prosecution and litigation of trademarks.