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CNN, Rolling Stone, MTV Get Trademark Story Completely Wrong

by Clifford D. Hyra on October 23, 2012

There seem to be only two types of stories about trademarks that the media picks up: 1) Trademarks filed by celebrities and 2) Stories about a big company picking on a small business for supposed similarities in business names or logos. Yesterday there was a celebrity trademark story on Rolling Stone that got picked up today by CNN. MTV is also running the story. The only problem is, it's wrong. And not just a little wrong, but completely wrong! In fact, like so many media stories written by journalists and not subject matter experts, it's a mess of confusion. Here are the links: Rolling Stone story; CNN story. Now MTV. Doesn't anyone check facts anymore? Let's break it down. We'll start with the first sentence: "Jay-Z and Beyoncé can't trademark the name of their daughter, Blue Ivy, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has ruled, which means the Boston wedding planner Blue Ivy can continue to use the name." Wrong! In fact the USPTO has already ruled that they can trademark the name of their daughter in 11 classes (categories) of products and services, and will shortly allow the application for all remaining requested classes. The USPTO initially required some additional information from Jay-Z and Beyonce's company (BGK Trademark Holdings), and refused registration of the BLUE IVY CARTER trademark in a few classes (categories) of products and services out of the 14 it was filed in. BGK's counsel promptly responded and overcame all objections except for one: a refusal in one class only, based on an application filed earlier by an impostor (which may well have prompted Jay-Z and Beyonce's trademark application in the first place). Of course the impostor's application was refused, which is why on Monday (10/21) BGK's counsel requested that the application, which was suspended pending the outcome of the impostor's application, be fully approved. This request will be granted. So in fact, the very first sentence is the exact opposite of reality. Let's go to the next sentence: "The superstar couple filed a petition to trademark the name "Blue Ivy" shortly after their daughter was born in January, seeking to reserve it for use as a possible brand name for a line of baby-related products, including carriages, diaper bags and baby cosmetics." Actually, they reserved it for 14 different categories of products and services, including cosmetics, key chains, paper flags, trading cards, mugs, beach balls, online video games, and more. Next: "'I knew this was going to be a bittersweet roller coaster,' Alexandra, 32, tells Rolling Stone. 'If this wasn't going to work, I'd go after both of them. Like, 'Let’s do it!' In my mind I had some protective rights. There's no way by way of being a celebrity they should have entitlement [to the name]. Shame on them.'" This is just total gibberish. This woman's application was never refused by the Trademark Office, never opposed by Jay-Z and Beyonce. There was no roller coaster, it was smooth sailing for her right through the Trademark Office to registration. In fact, Jay-Z and Beyonce are (to the best of my knowledge) entitled to use of the name as a trademark, by virtue of being the first to file a trademark application in many of the classes. I have no idea why "Alexandra" think they should be ashamed. I think the real story here is "Alexandra" duping the Rolling Stone into running a puff publicity piece for her company! And last paragraphs: "Still, Alexandra, who named the company to convey romantic traditionalism, says the trademark dispute has been a blessing in disguise. 'For me it was a very large compliment,' she says. 'All in all I was extremely happy that my design capacity is pretty badass.' The entrepreneur’s main takeaway? 'Money doesn't buy everything.'" Except there was no trademark dispute. I guess Jay-Z and Beyonce naming their daughter the same thing as her business was the blessing in disguise, because she got all this free publicity out of it. Who is her PR guy? Sign me up!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Veronica Alexandra 10.23.12 at 6:44 pm

I am the founder of Blue Ivy. Sorry to burst your bubble but here are some facts for you: I didnt call Rolling Stone, they called me – nice guess though… in my industry, we were on the top of our game without the eXtra fame. I dont need Rolling Stones. 2) The writer extrapolated what I said to him, so NO, I did NOT say any of the above exactly the way it was written above, except that I did feel it was a very large compliment. That part, sure. But the point of mentioning SHAME ON THEM <– the writer took it out of context – what I did say was an answer to the writer's question which was, "Do you think they knew about you before hand?" And I said, "Originally I totally thought they knew I existed since all they had to do was google the name while pregnant and waiting, but instead, it looks like they have had to deal with trademarking issues on whatever classes they could obtain after learning others existed, so if they decided to name their child without googling it, shame on them if they are unhappy with this situation that could have been avoidable …that's all. I will say it again like Ive said all along – I like both B & J a LOT. 3) You are wrong again. It IS a rollercoaster for me. What do you possibly know about my company's situation/experience except for the classic protocol of trademarking? The skinny point I'm going to make here is that B&J applied for classes that my company would have easily been focusing on in a few years for our own purposes that have nothing to do with their daughter or their industries; we were making our own path at our own pace and it didnt even dawn of me personally that this would ever happen… I have had to react when not wanting to, pay what I dont want to pay, talk to folks I could care less to waste time on vs. evolving organically. And now its become way more challenging to decide on the business plans. This is also a roller coaster for someone like me who was a young entreprenser at the time, naive enough to just role with the punches and unaware of the risks in not trademarking. Sorry we are not B & J with lawyers babysitting our every step… and no one in my exact career-choice, except for a FEW celebs, have trademarks for their company name. Really. 4) I didnt say that I learned "money doesnt by everything", quit wasting your time writing about someone's writing who you perfectly well know chops up news for a living to make you sound like solid chatachter. I said, it's nice to show the country that having money doesnt mean you can buy everything. And for the record, that statement does not reflect anything that I have learned from this, as I have been fearless all along. Like you said, I knew from the start I would be fine. I was told this from my lawyers. This was not the concern. The concern really is more for me about the fact that I cant evolve my company with the same name and ways I would have, and YES I AM THRILLED that I at least have the terf that my company does work and actively run on everyday – but the classes that have been (in theory) taken away from me/snatched up, that is very upsetting. On that note – there are 2 sides to every story and Im surprised you wasted your time disecting anything that has to do with this topic as we all know the scenario that no one is willing to release. I have mentioned countless times that this is not a law suit to every reporter but they still make it sound like that because….drum roll….FOX NEWS grabbed that word out of thin air. There was no judge, no court, no legal battle. It's on our FB. May the world continue.

Clifford D. Hyra 10.23.12 at 6:52 pm

Thanks for stopping by Veronica! I am sorry to hear Rolling Stone misquoted you. Sorry if I drew some unwarranted conclusions about how this story originated, but it certainly seems like a PR piece for your business. I did not know Fox News was reporting the story as well, I will have to add them to the list.

By the way, Jay-Z and Beyonce based their application on an intent to use BLUE IVY CARTER in commerce in the future. Once their application is officially approved (which will probable be in a few months) they will have up to a total of 3 years to start using the mark on every product and service they listed. In reality, they will probably end up dropping many of the products and classes, so it may not be as bad for your expansion plans as you fear.

Solomon Washington 10.27.12 at 5:13 pm

I just think that it’s cool that the Real Veronica actually came on this site to comment – and it was DEFINITELY good to hear this story from another angle.

Clifford, your article was great as well – you definitely seemed to stick to more factual points versus what the major media outlets are doing, and your response to Veronica seemed pretty heartfelt and genuine.

At the end of the day, hopefully Veronica’s business continues to grow and prosper – and perhaps Cliff’s points about the products and classes possibly being dropped will prove to be true and by that time Veronica can… pick them up? if she’s interested in them.

It’s pretty disappointing to see how certain media outlets continue to just misquote people just to garner more comments and views on their news outlet website… smh.

Good luck Veronica!

Thanks for the article Cliff!

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