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Can I Use A Name In My Trademark?

Consent and Personal Publicity Rights

Trademarks are used to identify the source of a product or service and distinguish it from other similar products or services in the market. A trademark can take many forms, including logos, symbols, slogans, and even names. However, using a person's name in a trademark can raise complex legal and ethical questions, as it may infringe on their right to control their name and image.

In the United States, a person's name in a trademark may be allowed if the individual consents to its use. In some cases, the individual may receive compensation for their consent. However, even if the individual consents, there may still be legal restrictions on the use of their name or likeness, such as privacy laws or publicity rights.

Suppose a person's name is used in a trademark without their consent. In that case, they may be able to bring a claim for invasion of privacy, misappropriation of likeness, or violation of their right to publicity. The right of publicity is a legal concept that gives individuals the right to control the commercial use of their name and image.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) takes the use of a person's name in a trademark seriously. Therefore, it requires that you provide written consent from the individual if your trademark includes a name or likeness that could identify a particular living individual. Consent is required for:

  • A full name (first name or initials followed by a surname) that could identify a particular living individual

  • A first name only, nickname, stage name, title, pseudonym (such as a pen name), or surname only that identifies a well-known or famous person or someone who has some public recognition under that name in connection with the relevant industry, business entity, goods, or services

  • A reasonably realistic likeness or portrait that could identify a particular living individual

  • In the case of a well-known or famous person, the USPTO may require that you provide proof that the person consents to use their name in the trademark.

Additionally, it's important to consider the potential impact on the individual's reputation and image and the potential for confusion or misperception among consumers. Therefore, before filing a trademark that includes a person's name, it's recommended to consult with a trademark attorney to ensure that your trademark does not infringe on any legal or ethical considerations.


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