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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It has always been the practice of the Industrial Property Institute of Mozambique to prohibit the refiling of trade marks that have been finally refused, which has posed a serious obstacle to trade mark applicants...
A recent Australian decision on keyword usage of a registered trade mark is in line with decisions in many other countries, including South Africa.
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