When a person becomes a big enough celebrity, their name becomes valuable property. Endorsements and other uses of their name are so valuable that celebrities often take the legal step of trademarking their name, whether it is their legal name or a stage name.
The next step is to protect that trademark, in court if necessary. For example, music superstar Beyoncé has sued an internet company with a suspiciously similar name for trademark infringement, according to the San Antonio Current.
The company, Feyoncé Inc., sells clothing featuring the company’s name. It also sells coffee mugs emblazoned with several phrases that seem to refer to Beyoncé’s hit 2008 song “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” Among the mugs for sale are ones that say “He put a ring on it,” “Does this ring make me look engaged?” and “Feyoncé,” but with a picture of an engagement ring instead of the letter O.
Beyoncé is arguing that consumers are likely to confuse the Feyoncé brand with her trademarked name. To prevail, she will have to prove that her brand is famous enough to create this confusion.
It appears that Beyoncé learned her lesson from a similar incident involving her family. In 2012, she and her husband, rapper Jay Z, attempted to trademark the name of their daughter, Blue Ivy, but were rejected because a wedding planning business already had that name. They reapplied for the trademark in 2013, and are awaiting a decision.
For most California businesses, their name and imagery needs to be carefully protected, or else they will not be able to stay in business for long. An intellectual property attorney can help with this.