Celebrity parents have come under fire recently for registering their children’s names as trade marks. There is a percentage of journalists and news readers who believe this relatively new practice is a blatant example of parents exploiting their children. However, it is actually quite a clever move on the part of the parents.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z, two very successful music artists, registered their baby’s name Blue Ivy Carter as a European Union Trade Mark back in 2012. Several weeks ago, they applied to register the names of their newborn twins Sir Carter and Rumi Carter as trade marks.
There are two primary reasons celebrities register their children’s names as trade marks. The first reason is so that the parents or family can derive income from the brand themselves, either through licensing the name or selling their own products under the mark. The second reason is to ensure a third party does not register the name themselves.
Trade mark rights give the owner an exclusive monopoly to a trade mark, and if somebody else registers the child’s name before the celebrity parent registers the name, then there is a strong possibility that the celebrity child’s name cannot be used on products by the rightful owner. This could have serious commercial repercussions for the parents and the child, as any plans to sell products and merchandise under the child’s name may have to be abandoned. Many celebrities keep their children out of the limelight and away from the media glare. They want to shield their children from paparazzi and journalists.
However, there are some well known figures who have made full use of the media for themselves and their children. A prime example of this is the Beckhams. The parents, David and Victoria Beckham, one a professional footballer and the other a pop singer, transformed their name into an international super brand. “Brand Beckham” has seen tremendous commercial success. The Beckhams have licensed their brand to major fashion retailers and cosmetic companies. They have endorsed a wide array of products from clothing to watches to perfume. Nonetheless, the Beckham brand not only encompasses David and Victoria, the children are now involved too. In December 2016, the parents applied to register Brooklyn Beckham, Romeo Beckham, Harper Beckham and Cruz Beckham.
With some of the children already embarking on their own photography and modelling careers, it makes perfect sense to protect their names now. The children are an extension of the parents, and therefore an extension of the brand. Brooklyn, Romeo, Harper and Cruz all sub-brands of the Beckham brand. There is a strong possibility the Beckham children will be providing endorsements or licensing their names to certain products in the near future. Therefore, the next logical step in the evolution of the Beckham brand is to secure the children’s names as trade marks.
The notion that by registering their children’s names as trade marks is somehow unethical or that the parents are “cashing in” on their children is short sighted. It is actually a very savvy and practical step in ensuring a brand can develop, grow, evolve and stay protected.
The alternative to not registering the children’s names is for some unrelated and unscrupulous person to do it, thereby doing untold damage to the brand and destroying any potential revenue stream for the parents and the children themselves.
David Flynn, European Trademark Attorney.
Click here to visit David’s profile.