Shortly after singer Beyoncé gave birth to daughter Blue Ivy Carter in January, the new mother and father, rapper Jay-Z, did something most parents never do. They filed a trademark application on the name of their child. When the parents are two of the most successful musicians on the planet, it seems that even the birth of their first child doesn’t slow down business. It may seem like a smart thing to do, because other people might try to beat them to the trademark office to potentially use the mark as leverage. For example, third parties might try to use the mark in ways that negatively affect their brand or try to sell the mark to them at an exorbitant price. News reports have come out suggesting that they have lost their battle over the trademark. (Click here to see Rolling Stone article.) While it’s true that Beyoncé and Jay-Z will not have have exclusive rights to use the term Blue Ivy, they haven’t lost their rights all together. The couple’s trademark application is still pending before the US Patent and Trademark Office and recently published for opposition. (Click here to see Notice of Publication from the USPTO.) So long as there is no one with senior rights to the same mark for the same or similar goods, their trademark registration application should survive the opposition period.
The interesting twist in this story is that Veronica Alexandra, who has been using the name Blue Ivy for her event planning business since 2009, filed a trademark application in February shortly after Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Veronica’s application was filed in the class for “event planning”. Beyonce and Jay-Z’s application was filed in numerous classes, mostly children’s products, but none that really overlap with event planning. An important principle of trademark law is that two different people can register a trademark for the same name as long as there is no likelihood of confusion between the two. For example, if someone holds a trademark on Blue Ivy in the class for event planning and someone else holds the trademark on Blue Ivy in computer software, it is unlikely that the two will be confused. However, if there is overlap between the two classes, then there is a problem and the later filed mark will be rejected because of a likelihood of confusion.
In this case, the USPTO ruled that Blue Ivy event planning would not be confused with Blue Ivy baby carriages and fragrances, classes in which Beyonce and Jay-Z filed. Should Beyonce and Jay-Z see their trademark application through to registration, they will obtain exclusive rights over Blue Ivy in the classes in which they filed and related classes where confusion might arise. Concurrently, Alexandra is free to use the Blue Ivy mark in relation to her event planning business and prevent others from using the Blue Ivy mark in related fields.