CNN, Rolling Stone, MTV Get Trademark Story Completely Wrong
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!