Should An Artist Trademark Her Name?

Arts & Entertainment

  • Author Elektra B. Yao, Esq.
  • Published July 6, 2021
  • Word count 674

Artists and Creatives are often focused with the creation of their work and the artistic process. And rightly so, they should be focused on their artistry and developing their work. However in the 21st Century, in order for an artist or creative to succeed within her craft, she must start to understand the business of the arts and how that affects the distribution and visibility of her work.

The Business of the Arts

The Business of the Arts refers to all marketing, transactional, promotional, social media management and business practices connected to the artist and her work. These activities usually occur after the work has been created, is completed, and ready to be distributed and shared with the public.

Artists and Creatives should begin to internalize their work as commodities and products in order to encourage their understanding of the ownership of their work. Ownership creates power and the artistic commodity can become an asset with real tangible value.

Promoting and protecting that asset is part of mastering the business of the arts.

Trademark

A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services. This includes the artist’s name. It’s how customers, consumers, and supporters recognize you in the world and distinguish you from your competitors.

A trademark:

  • Identifies the source of your goods or services.

  • Provides legal protection for your brand.

  • Helps you guard against counterfeiting and fraud.

Many artists and creatives hesitate to trademark their name, word, phrase, symbol, design, because they think they’re not well known or successful enough yet. In fact, it’s the opposite! If an artist has decided that this is her full-time work, then she should take all of the necessary steps to ensure long term economic success. There is no benefit in delaying.

Benefit of Filing a Trademark

There are many legal and business benefits associated with registering a trademark.

Legal Benefits:

  1. The exclusive right to use the symbol, slogan, logo, or image in connection with the goods or services listed in the trademark registration;

  2. A presumption of ownership in the entire United States;

  3. The ability to obtain trademarks (and the accompanying trademark protections) in other countries;

  4. Protection under the federal Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act;

  5. The ability to request the assistance of the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency to confiscated goods imported into the US that bear your trademark falsely or bear a substantially similar trademark designed to appear to be your trademark;

  6. The ability to litigate trademark infringement in federal court, rather than state court.

Business Benefits:

  1. Unique Trademarks Helps audience members and industry professionals find you;

  2. A trademark becomes an asset to your artist brand;

  3. Competitors cannot infringe on your trademark, meaning no other artist can benefit from your reputation.

Celebrities Artists who have filed trademarks

There have been 6.7 million trademark applications filed with the US PTO since 1985, including many celebrity trademarks.

Taylor Swift: She is in the processing of trademarking her lyrics and song titles.

Black Chyna: She tried to trademark her future married name Angela Kardashian but Kourtney, Kim, and Khloé Kardashian — under their corporations 2Die4Kourt, Kimsaprincess Inc., and Khloemoney Inc. blocked her from registering the trademark.

Kylie Jenner: She trademarked Stormiworld, a portmanteau of her daughter’s name and Travis Scott’s album AstroWorld.

Donald Trump: He applied for his “Make America Great Again” trademark in 2012 — days after the presidential election. That application was approved only in July 2015.

50 Cent: He registered his artist name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in July 2002, a year before his debut album, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” hit the shelves and propelled him to fame. His trademark was approved in 2004.

Artists and Creatives need to be forward thinking in their careers and focus on the artistic side and business side of their craft. In 2021, it is indispensable for an artist to promote and protect her artistry to ensure long term success. One of the first ways to begin is to file a trademark.

Elektra B. Yao, Esq. is the owner and founder of Yao Law Group, a law firm dedicated to working with artists and creatives through every step of their career.

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Yaolawgroup.com

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