Can I Trademark My Name?

Under what circumstances is it legal to trademark a person’s name?

Blac Chyna, the rumored fiancé of Robert Kardashian, with whom she shares a child, was recently denied trademark protection for the name “Angela Kardashian.”  Chyna, whose legal name is Angela White, filed a trademark petition in May of 2016 seeking to protect the name Angela Kardashian prior to her wedding to Rob.  The Kardashians filed an opposition to the request, claiming that Chyna was seeking to profit from the goodwill and fame of their name.  They also asserted that granting the trademark would cause them to suffer irreparable injury to the reputation and goodwill of the Kardashian name.  The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) declined to register the trademark Angela Kardashian after Chyna failed to answer a notice of default.  

Blac Chyna and the Kardashian’s trademark dispute raises some interesting questions and issues about trademarking one’s name.  Our New York City trademarks and service marks attorney at Thomas M. Lancia PLLC discusses trademarking your name below.  For assistance with registering your trademark or resolving your trademark dispute, contact our firm today.  

Why might someone want to trademark their name?

The USPTO defines a trademark as a word, symbol, phrase, design, or a combination of such that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods or services.  Nothing prevents a business owner from attempting to trademark his or her name, but not all names will meet the conditions to be granted a trademark.  A name will generally only be granted trademark protection if the name is unique and widely used in commerce.  The name must have a secondary meaning that is widely recognized.

There are numerous trademarked names that have become extremely valuable today. For instance, Martha Stewart and Calvin Klein are both actual names that are now synonymous with powerful brands.  Seeking trademark protection for your name can effectively prevent others from using a confusingly similar name.

Just because a name is legally yours does not mean you will be granted trademark protection.  If your name is substantially similar to a registered trademark, as in the case of Chyna’s requested name, your mark could be denied.  Trademarking your name is something that should be done with care and consideration so that your mark is protected to the fullest extent.