New parents have a lot to worry about. They have to make sure their new bundle of joy is kept fed, changed, clean, safe, happy… and the list goes on. Celebrity parents apparently have another concern as well–the fear that someone will try to trademark their new baby’s name?

Beyonce and Jay-Z welcomed baby girl Blue Ivy Carter on January 7, 2012. Four days later, a New York designer named Joseph Mbeh filed an application to trademark the name “Blue Ivy Carter NYC.”  Mbeh wished to create a line of infant, toddler, and junior clothing including dresses, skirts, and undergarments–all bearing the Blue Ivy Carter trademark.

Unfortunately for Mr. Mbeh, the United States Patent and Trademark Office refused to register the trademark. The USPTO’s reasoning basically hinged on consumer confusion. Because of her parent’s celebrity status, Blue Ivy Carter is a famous infant whose name is very recognizable. When consumers see items bearing a “Blue Ivy Carter” trademark they will associate the product with Blue Ivy Carter the individual and her famous parents. The confusion will be well-founded because celebrities often start clothing lines that bear their own names or their children’s names. Allowing the trademark would also likely prevent Beyonce and Jay-z from starting a line for their daughter in the future.

Thankfully for all parties, Mr. Mbeh decided to stop pursuing the trademark after the USPTO’s decision. Another New York fragrance company has also filed a trademark application for the phrase “Blue Ivy Carter Glory IV” to use on toiletries such as fragrances and skin creams. Unlike Mr. Mbeh, who started using his trademark right after the birth of Blue Ivy Carter, this company claims that they have been using their trademark in commerce since 2011. Although Blue Ivy Carter’s celebrity status will likely defeat this application as well, there are some salient differences between this application and the one filed by Mr. Mbeh. First of all, the products being sold are toiletries–which don’t conjure up images of a newborn celebrity baby as much as baby clothing. Also, if this company was actually using the name in commerce since 2011, they may be able to claim that Beyonce and Jay-Z subsequently naming their baby that should not impact their application.

– Nadia Mozaffar

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One Response to What’s in a Name? Apparently Not Trademark Protection . . .

  1. Megan says:

    This is a really interesting post! It would never have occurred to me to worry about someone trademarking my child’s name (probably because I’m not famous enough for this to be an issue!).

    I also have to wonder about the second company’s claim that they’ve been using “Blue Ivy Carter Glory IV” on their products since 2011– seems like an unlikely phrase to choose for toiletries without the added significance of it being Beyonce and Jay-Z’s child’s name.