Can You Trademark Your Own Name?

Prompted by this:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/02/04/political.circus/index.html
This is GQ folks so no political slams, overt or covert.

[ul]
[li]As a private person, can I trademark my name?[/li][li]As a private person with decidedly commercial interests in mind (money for me bwahahha!) can I trademark my name?[/li][li]As a public person can I trademark my name?[/li][li]As a public person with decidedly commercial interests in mind (money for me bwahahha!) can I trademark my name?[/li][li]As a public person can I trademark my name in order to censor politically sensitive negative comments about me?[/li][/ul]
FWIW, I am surmising Palin is doing this to create a legal moat around her to stop any smear tactics against her, her agenda (whatever that may be) and possibly derive a commercial benefit from it. Hey, I’m all for making a buck or two. I’m more concerned with the aspect this may be an attempt at limiting political speech.

Again, limit comments to answers of questions asked. If so inclined to delving into political ramifications, a mod can see fit to move thread so as not to have to create a separate thread in GD for potential political undertones and motivations.

If you do business with that name (and nobody else does), you can trademark it.

You cannot claim your name as a trademark if you are using it only as your name, including as a byline or credit for things you have written.

In order to earn trademark rights in your name (or register it as a trademark) you must be using it “in commerce” as an identifier of the source of goods and services.

For example, Tommy Hilfiger uses his name as a mark on his goods (clothing and accessories). Thus, he can claim trademark rights in the term “Tommy Hilfiger.”

I believe Bill Joel is trademarked.
Oh, wait-It is- found an old thread on it, but I don’t know how to link to it.

Trademarking doesn’t protect someone from satire, criticism, etc. available under free speech. It would however, proclude someone from making a bunch of t-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons, etc. that included her name on them and then be able to sell them. The ability to sell items with her name would be restricted to the owner of the trademark.

To answer your questions more specifically:

[quote=“Duckster, post:1, topic:570206”]

[li]As a private person, can I trademark my name?[/li][/quote]

See my answer above.

[quote]
[li]As a private person with decidedly commercial interests in mind (money for me bwahahha!) can I trademark my name?[/li][/quote]

You can file an “intent to use” application with the Patent and Trademark Office, but that must be followed up by proof of use in commerce in order for you to get a valid registration.

[quote]
[li]As a public person can I trademark my name?[/li][/quote]

See my answer above.

[quote]
[li]As a public person with decidedly commercial interests in mind (money for me bwahahha!) can I trademark my name?[/li][/quote]

See my answer above.

[quote]
[li]As a public person can I trademark my name in order to censor politically sensitive negative comments about me?[/li][/quote]

Trademark rights in a term do not give you the right to police other people’s use of the term. They only allow you to object to a “use in commerce” that is “likely to cause confusion” among consumers as to the origin of goods and services. Essentially, this boils down to stopping a competitor from using your name in a way that somehow misleads people about the origin of the relevant goods and services.

So, no, it doesn’t help you do anything about negative comments by anyone.

If she is, then she’s been given very bad legal advice. It won’t work.

There’s no problem with that, so long as she is using her name as a mark in commerce indicating the source or origin of goods or services. If she’s simply using it as her name, it’s not going to gain her any commercial benefit.

No danger of that.

This is not necessarily true. It would only work if Palin herself is using her name as a trademark for T-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons, etc., and the person she is trying to stop is using her name on T-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons, etc., in a manner that is likely to cause people to think that they are being manufactured, sponsored, or authorized by her.

If the T-shirt says “Sarah Palin is a hypocritical, moronic, evil slutburger,” there’s little risk of such confusion.

This is not necessarily true, either. It is conceivable for two people to have rights in the same trademark, so long as there is no likelihood that consumers will be confused about the origin of goods and services.

For example:

Delta – airline and faucets
United – airline and moving company
American – airline and urinals

So the makers of the porn movie “Nailin’ Palin” don’t have anything to worry about? - - Need answer fast!

Not from a trademark standpoint, they don’t.

Palin is an idiot. Good luck trying.

If her lawyer is competent, I would expect she’s planning to put out some kind of gods or services branded with her name. It’s not inconceivable.

Many, if not most, big name writers are private corporations. The corporation can then trademark the author’s name.

Example:

Anybody who makes lots of money is advised to create a corporation. Trademarking personal names through the corporation is becoming far more common.

I wasn’t looking for it, but I just found the text of the Palin trademark application:

Apparently any U.S. citizen can do so.

I’m confused. What could the film “Who’s Nailin’ Paylin” about the exploits of the fictional character Serra Paylin have to do with the esteemed former Governor?

I dimly remember Joe Montana suing Nike when they brought out a “Montana” shoe, and the case being dismissed when Nike said it was named after the state, not Joe.

For now, NO.

Apple got permission from McIntosh stereo company when they put out the first Macintosh PCs. Later when the Macs added sound the stereo company sued saying that was not allowed under their agreement. I don’t know how that suit was settled.

An example of that:
Seeing that they had a quite successful fast-food operation with a few (7) franchises Ray Kroc eventually bought it (including the rights to the name) from the McDonald brothers. Then he expanded the chain greatly, adding franchises all over.

But the original McDonalds restaurant (now operated by the brothers & their founding employees) had to change it’s name, because Ray Kroc & McDonalds Corp. now owned & had trademarked the McDonalds name in the fast-food business. Even the original McDonald brothers couldn’t use their own name on their own restaurant.

I don’t think it’s restricted to U.S. citizens. Any person or entity offering goods or services in the United States can claim trademark rights or register a trademark.

If it’s becoming more common, then it’s because authors and other famous people are using their names as trademarks and selling licensed merchandise or branded services of some kind. Harlan Ellison can’t assert any trademark rights if he’s doing nothing but writing books under his own name. That’s not a trademark use in commerce. That’s just a name used as a name.

It wouldn’t be “dismissed” just because they said so. Montana must have been unable to offer evidence that they meant to use his name. And in that case, it was more likely to be a right of publicity case (commercial misappropriation of a person’s name, image, voice, or identity) rather than a trademark case.

Note that the reason for now is a technical one — she forgot to sign the forms. But the news report also says: “The office also said Palin’s application failed to show that her name had been used in commerce and could also be rejected on those grounds.” That’s the main obstacle.

It was Apple Records, the company founded by the Beatles.