Recently, the world of music lost guitar wizard Les Paul. A Les Paul® is a brand of guitar, and a registered trademark. Trademarks are anything that distinguish your goods or services from the competition. Les Paul’s name was stamped or labeled on the guitars he made for Gibson, and thus it was a trademark. Fashion designers (Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein), musicians (Tom Petty and the Hearbreakers, Placido Domingo), and sports stars (Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan) all promote their name as a brand name, whether it is on merchandise or in performance of their services.
But you don’t have to be famous to have a name that is a trademark. The Erik M. Pelton & Associates PLLC logo is a registered trademark. Stage names, initials, pseudonyms, and nicknames may be trademarks as well.
Many names that are not famous or celebrities are registered trademarks. For example, the following are registered trademarks obtained by our firm:
- BERNSTEIN MEDICAL®
- VANDERVEER CENTER logo®
- JEAN FRANK® (does not identify a living individual)
- MICHAEL AND SON®
- LINDA “Z”®
- MB MARCO BELLINI Logo®
- CLARE & DON’S BEACH SHACK®
Note that a name that is “primarily merely a surname” may not be registrable. If the public would recognize the trademark as only a common last name, it may be unregistrable or entitled to less protection as a matter of policy in order to allow others with the same surname to be able to use it. For more about surname trademarks, see here.
Lesson: If your name is part of your brand, part of your marketing, and have you properly protected its trademark rights?