If you’re a politician from Alaska or one of the world’s most controversial web-masters, apparently there may be a lot of business potential in your name. Or so Sarah Palin and daughter, Bristol, along with Wikileaks’ purveyor Julian Assange think.
Assange filed for trademark protection in the UK for:
Public speaking services; news reporter services; journalism; publication of texts other than publicity texts; education services; entertainment services.
From an ABC news article on the Palins,
Sarah Palin’s [trademark] application shows that she wants to register her name as a trademark for two commercial services: “information about political elections” and “providing a website featuring information about political issues.”
Bristol Palin wants to trademark her name for “educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of life choices,” according to the application filed.
Do the Palins really need trademark protection? As we talked about in an earlier post, trademarks protect the relationship in the minds of consumers. They serve to reduce consumer search costs so that consumers can easily and readily identify a goods or services provider. The only reason Sarah and Bristol Palin would really even need trademark protection is if someone else tried to use either of their names to sell the same or similar services. But, really, how many other Bristol Palins are there out there? I can’t imagine there’d be another who’d want to use that name to provide motivational speaking services in the field of life choices. And even if there was, most cases have held that you can’t prevent a person from using his or her own name (though if there is a likelihood of confusion, there may be additional steps that need to be taken to alleviate confusion). But even despite this unlikely scenario, if someone else tries or wants to use either of the Palins to hock their goods, isn’t that where good ol’ right of publicity law should come in to play?