Sarah and Bristol Palin have filed applications to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark “Sarah Palin®” and “Bristol Palin®.”
According to trademark office application (serial # 85170226), “Sarah Palin” was registered on Nov. 5, 2010 — three days after the midterm elections. The examining attorney “found no conflicting marks that would bar registration.” In other words, nobody else had already taken the proposed trademark.
A “Bristol Palin” application (serial #85130638) was filed on Sept. 15, 2010. Bristol Palin’s stint with “Dancing With the Stars” premiered on Sept. 20.
This is not groundbreaking. Celebrities (or anyone with an interest in protecting their name and image) are well-served by trademarking their names and likenesses.
Sarah’s application claims two classes of commercial service for which her name would be a registered trademark. One is for “information about political elections” and “providing a website featuring information about political issues.” The second is for “educational and entertainment services … providing motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values.”
The “Bristol Palin” application is for “educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of life choices.”
Both applications were assigned to the same examining attorney, Karen K. Bush. Bush is no stranger to trademark applications with a political slant. The patent attorney ruled in 2007 that a man could not file a trademark application on the name Obama bin Laden.
According to the USPTO website, the Palin applications are still active, but have issues. First, Sarah (or, more likely, her attorney) forgot to include her written consent to have her name trademarked. The USPTO is also asking for examples of how the vaunted Palin name has been used for a commercial purpose, such as “signs, photographs, brochures, website printouts or advertisements” that show the proposed trademark “used in the actual sale or advertising of the services.”
Sarah submitted a screenshot of a Fox News Channel webpage with the headline “Palin to Join Fox News as Contributor,” and a PDF file of a screen shot from the Washington Speakers Bureau website containing the former Alaska governor’s biography plus another screen shot of her Facebook profile.
But it’s one thing to say you’re going to do something, and another to actually do it. I have a biography (see, right here!), a Facebook profile, (another time, perhaps), and look, I even got my name in the paper (try not to squint, it’s towards the bottom)! A Facebook profile and a biography don’t make a commercial purpose. Yet another reason to hire a seasoned trademark attorney who will get it right the first time.
The saddest part is that no one would dispute that Sarah Palin’s name has obvious commercial and political purposes! She’s a multi-million dollar
industry! (cue sad lament)
Bristol’s application has similar problems as her mother’s. No consent signature and no examples of commercial purposes. Not that it’s impossible. Bristol was on Dancing With the freakin’ Stars. If that’s not a commercial purpose, nothing is.
Politicians rarely trademark their names, but that may be changing, as more of them become celebrities and brands in their own right. Sarah Palin, love her or hate her, is a phenomenon, and I don’t blame her for protecting her image. And remember, I kid because I love.