Friday, November 28, 2008

Shaun White PC Game makes me wonder about personal names as brands; what about domain names then?

The other day, in a “red card” Target store (trying to break the consumer freeze in our economy), I noticed a computer game on sale with Shaun White’s name as an apparent trademark. It was “Shaun White Snowboarding” (link here). While I enjoy seeing Shaun in American Express ads (as well as in the movie “First Descent”) I wondered about what happens when celebrities use their own names as brands, possibly locking out other less famous people from doing the same thing, possibly even as domain names.

I am lucky to have an unusual enough (and difficult to spell) Eastern European name that it wouldn’t happen to me, probably. But it certainly can happen to others. Section III of USPTO’s Examination Guide (link)seems to prohibit or discourage the use of surnames (only in combination with TLD’s) as valid brand trademarks. But I still wonder where this is now.

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