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Think your baby’s name is popular? Check the patent office

What’s in a name? Quite a fortune, if you’re the child of a celebrity power couple. Within a month after music moguls Jay-Z and Beyonce announced the birth of their daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, they filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect the baby’s name. They’re reserving it for a line of strollers, diaper bags and other baby accessories in what is sure to be a lucrative venture for the superstars.

Before you scoff, bear in mind that just four days after little Blue Ivy was born, a noted fashion designer submitted his own application to trademark “Blue Ivy Carter NYC.” Another application was submitted for “Blue Ivy Carter Glory IV” in hopes of launching a line of fragrances. Both filings were denied with the explanation that the name of the “very famous infant” could lead consumers to assume that the products were approved by her parents.

Although the application by Beyonce’s company, BGK Trademark Holdings, is pending, it’s essentially a done deal because parents are legally authorized to trademark their minor children’s names. But the fact that federal officials took such swift action on the filings has caused some to wonder whether Beyonce and Jay-Z are receiving special treatment. A trademark action usually takes three to four months, is usually first-come first-served, and the line is very long. The office gets hundreds of thousands of applications every year.

But when a name with huge potential to make money comes along — think “Occupy,” “99%,” even New Jersey’s own “The Situation” — it comes with a huge spike in trademark filings, and with good reason. A trademark identifies the source of goods and services and protects businesses from unauthorized use of a brand. “You can make a ton of money with T-shirts,” says one trademark attorney.

When the applications for a potentially valuable name come pouring in, the trademark office pulls them aside and channels them to examiners who can do research and make rulings on such filings. That’s what happened in Blue Ivy’s case, with one exception: A boutique in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, applied to trademark its name, Blue Ivy, in January 2011 — well before Beyonce was pregnant. Having received approval in August, the store owners now have the right to use the name for their store, website and any items they want. Of course, they could also sell the trademark … if a certain celebrity couple asked for it.

Source: Washington Post, “‘Blue Ivy,’ the trademark: Feds move fast on rights to Beyonce and Jaz-Z’s baby’s name,” The Reliable Source, Feb. 3, 2012

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