When mega music stars Beyoncé and Jay-Z had a child earlier this year, they named her Blue Ivy Carter. And a few days later they filed to register and protect the name for a wide variety of products and services. Reportedly, the baby’s name and cries have already appeared in songs from Jay-Z.
Perhaps they realized that if they did not file to protect the name, others may be more willing to try to use it for financial gain. And maybe in the long run registering the name BLUE IVY CARTER would make it easier and less expensive to deal with such incidents. An application filed by Jay-Z and Beyoncé (via a management company) would likely block any applications filed with the USPTO after their application. Just having a pending application for a while could even help to delay and complicate other applications, even if their never becomes registered.
In fact, several others did try to file to register the BLUE IVY name shortly after the birth. These applications could be blocked for other reasons as well, but Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s application makes it even easier for the USPTO to deny them.
However, the music stars could not assert any trademark rights against someone who was using BLUE IVY in commerce prior to the birth of their child or their application to register BLUE IVY CARTER. And two businesses in fact were using the name earlier:
- BLUE IVY – Event planning and management for marketing, branding, promoting or advertising the goods and services of others; Special event planning for business purposes; Special event planning for commercial, promotional or advertising purposes; Online retail store services and retail store services featuring paintings, wedding portraits and invitations; Personal management services for promotional, corporate and party entertainers; Consultation in the field of special event planning for social entertainment purposes; Special event planning for social entertainment purposes; Party and wedding planning and coordination services; Party and wedding planning consultation services; Providing information in the field of wedding party planning; Rental of party decorations and wedding decorations; used since 2009
- BLUE IVY (logo) – Retail store services featuring clothing, jewelry, home and clothing accessories, and giftware; in use since 2000
The retail store had been granted registration by the USPTO in 2009. And the wedding and event planning business was just granted a USPTO trademark registration this month, despite the fact that it’s application was filed after the one by Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
And then the media went wild. And completely misreported the story.
Identical or overlapping trademarks can often co-exist for different services and products. And parties can, if necessary, negotiate agreement to coexist. So, despite the media reports, the mere fact that Veronica Morales received a registered trademark for BLUE IVY for wedding and event services did not automatically mean that Beyoncé and Jay-Z could not protect BLUE IVY CARTER. Some examples of names that co-exist: Delta (airlines; faucets). Peter Pan (bus line; peanut butter). And in fact, BLUE IVY (and a design) was registered for retail store services prior to the registration of BLUE IVY for wedding and event services, and now both are registered.
In fact, the USPTO this week gave preliminary approval to the application for BLUE IVY CARTER application, despite the earlier registrations of BLUE IVY by others. See USPTO records here.
Respectable news outlets completed missed the story here. The story they reported is short on facts, contains incorrect facts, and mostly failed to interview or quote anyone with knowledge about trademark law.
- MTV.com: Jay-Z and Beyonce Lose Blue Ivy Trademark; The Carters received a suspended letter on their pending trademark on baby Blue’s name. [Note the contradiction within the headline – “suspended” trademark applicatoin is not “lost”]
- Billboard.com: Boston Business, Not Beyonce, Gets ‘Blue Ivy’ Trademark
- Huffington Post: Blue Ivy Trademark: Beyonce, Jay-Z Lose Trademark Battle To Boston-Based Company
- Forbes.com: ‘Blue Ivy’ Trademark Name A No-Go For Beyonce And Jay-Z (“Nine months later and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has ruled that trademark protection over the name “Blue Ivy” has been granted to Boston-based wedding events firm Blue Ivy Events, with celebrity couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z losing the legal bid to trademark the name for their newborn daughter, Blue Ivy Carter.”)
With this kind of lazy reporting, it is no wonder that newspapers are failing.