Lawyers like to tell their clients to move fast when it comes to trade mark registration, but this is ridiculous: it's been reported that Beyoncé and Jay-Z (yes I did know who they were, but only just!) have applied to register their daughter's name as a trade mark for baby products within a month of the child's birth. What loving parents Blue Ivy has – yes the poor child will be going through life with one of those silly names that celebrities are so fond of, just as Moon Unit, Dweezil, Blanket, Fifi Trixibelle, Apple and Maddox have had to do! Securing their little darling's financial future from day one by creating a brand. But Blue Ivy's parents are also quite astute. That's because, by the time Beyoncé and Jay-Z lodged their trade mark application, two other applications had already been filed, one for Blue Ivy Carter NYC (just four days after the birth), and another for Blue Ivy Carter Glory IV. And here's a remarkable thing -
the US Trade Marks' Office had apparently already refused these applications on the basis that consumers would associate the name with the child's famous parents. So how would this have played itself out in South Africa? Well, there's certainly no chance that the two bogus applications would've been examined and refused within a period of one month. But, although we do generally operate a 'first come first served' system, it is possible that the two bogus applications would eventually have been refused on the basis of potential confusion. As for the genuine application, the Registry may have required proof that the person whose name was being registered in fact agreed to the registration. Which in a case like this probably would simply have required a written consent from the parents, rather than an interview with the infant. So the message is very clear – you need to stop thinking of your baby as some sort of wonderful gift, but rather as a brand. Which means that you can't carry on using tired names like Susan, Kosie and Bongani. No, in future you need to come up with a name that's going to work in the marketplace. Here are a few gratuitous suggestions for those lucky enough to be in the family way: Platitude, a perfume maybe; Stallion, a car perhaps; Bullion, an aftershave, Apogee, an investment product; Photon, anything telecoms. (Readers' suggestions are welcome!)
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