Bristol and Sarah Palin recently attempted to trademark their names, but the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected their applications for a number of reasons including failure to sign the submissions.
Sarah Palin is also seeking to register her name as a trademark in relation to entertainment services. Aside from failing to sign the application, the trademark office indicated that she had failed to show how her name was used in commerce. Trademarks protect marks—including brand names and logos—only when used in connection with particular goods and services. In turn, when filing a trademark application, an applicant must indicate what service or product the mark is representing.
Even if the applicant resubmits signed documents, the application could be rejected on grounds there is not a demonstrated use in commerce. However, the women have hired a new attorney who is working to fix the problems with the applications. They have until May 29th to submit the appropriate documentation of commercial use of their marks and their signatures.
Both women are seeking to trademark their names in relation to their motivational speaking services. Sarah’s motivational speaking relates to “the field of politics, culture, business and values.” Bristol’s motivational speaking is listed as being related to the field of life choices. Bristol, who starred on the TV show Dancing With The Stars in 2010, speaks to audiences about teen pregnancy and abstinence.
It is not especially common for politicians to trademark their names because they are not attached to any sort of commercial service or product. However, since Palin resigned as Governor of Alaska, she has written two books, starred in a reality television series on TLC, and also become a correspondent for FOX News.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office generally does not issue trademarks for names to because the agency does not want to forbid a people from using their own names in businesses, according to a U.S. Court of Appeals opinion on the issue. Moreover, some names are so common that no reasonable person would mistakenly believe two entities with the same name are connected.
If the Plain name is ultimately approved as a trademark this will help the Palins protect their “brand” somewhat. However, receiving the trademark registrations will not keep people from using the names in public commentary, parody, new reports, and other areas protected by the First Amendment.
Beth Hutchens at IP Watchdog has excellent coverage of the Palin trademark issue.