The incomparable brand phenom Taylor Swift recently filed dozens of trademark applications in the US Patent and Trademark Office to register a number of her song titles and her initials for a fairly wide variety of goods and services. By way of example, she’s seeking to register “Party Like It’s 1989” for educational and entertainment services, all kinds of online content and content delivery systems, contests and sweepstakes, retail store services, toys, Christmas tree decorations and more. These filings generated a lot of press, some positive, some negative. Gotta love the media, most of whom in their coverage of Ms. Swift’s filings evidenced a lack of understanding of brands and how to protect them. Her strategy is right on; in fact, she is not the first performing artist to expand their legal brand presence in this manner. Jimmy Buffet is by far the Heavyweight Champion in this arena, with over 300 registrations and pending applications.
One of the niceties of our trademark registration system, which was updated to meet world standards in 1989 (one of the reasons for partying that year), was to allow for the filing of trademarks for goods and services we intend to use them on. So if a brand is planning a fairly extensive licensing or sponsorship program, for example, it’s not unusual for that brand to file applications for as many goods and services as such a program might allow. Our clients like FremantleMedia, owners of the brands “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent” (and many others) routinely do such filings. Plus, all you need to do to file these applications is to have a “bona fide” intent to use the mark for the goods or services applied for, but actual use is a prerequisite for obtaining a registration in the US (but not in most other countries).
So if it fits what you do, go for it.