There Can Be Only One… Lennon?

from the oh-please dept

ehrichweiss writes Yoko Ono filed what is essentially a lawsuit with the Trademark and Trial Board of the US Patent & Trademark Office this week over a musician’s ownership of the trademark of “Lennon”, attempting to force the musician to give up her trademark. The musician, Lennon Murphy, has owned the trademark since 2003 and had sought permission from Arista records and Yoko to release under the name “Lennon” back in 2000. Yoko apparently waited until 2 days before the statute of limitations ran out to file the lawsuit.”

The details on this are a bit murky, but the reality is that neither party looks good here. It seems rather silly that the musician tried to trademark “Lennon” in the first place. While it does seem odd that Yoko Ono waited until two days before the statute of limitations expired to file her complaints about the trademark, just the fact that people are arguing over whether or not a given name can be covered by trademark suggests how far lost our intellectual property laws have become. It’s easy to make Yoko Ono look bad over this, but the fact that Murphy singer tried to trademark Lennon in the first place does seem problematic.

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Comments on “There Can Be Only One… Lennon?”

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24 Comments
Sylvester (profile) says:

Defensive Trademark?

Filing a trademark on the name you perform under and which happens to be your real name? Yeah, real suspicious that. It is possible that Lennon Murphy trademarked defensively, though, to prevent Yoko from telling her that she can’t use her real name in conjunction with her singing career. Note that Julian Lennon is said to support Lennon Murphy.

However, I don’t think people should be able to trademark their given or surnames. My last name is trademarked by a major corporation–and I don’t think it should be since it is a common last name.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Can't trademark?

I thought you can’t get a trademark on your own name?

This reminds me of Bob Dylan objecting to Apple’s use of the name “Dylan” for a programming language it was developing back in the 1990s. I was surprised he had any kind of case, since it’s not even his real name, he copied it from the same source Apple did–Dylan Thomas.

you gotta be kidding says:

Does she sing like John or Yoko??

Just another case of how far out of sanity our world has really become. No one should be able to claim ownership and control over a common family name. It is like trying to trademark Smith or Jones or Yang.

The only reason to do trademark the name has nothing to do with music it has to do with trying to profit.

I am filing today to trademark my name. I have to protect myself incase i ever become famous.

Cygnus says:

Names can be trademarked, but...

Okay, there seems to be some confusion here about trademarking names. Generally, a personal name or surname cannot be trademarked. However, if the name gains “secondary meaning”, then it can be registered as a trademark. “Secondary meaning” requires that the relevant consuming public recognize the word as a source of goods or services. Consider “Ford”. It wouldn’t be reasonable, for example, to let some schmo named Jim Ford to start selling cars under his last name…that would be confusing.

Which leads to the second point: you don’t have an unqualified right to use your name in commerce. If your name already has secondary meaning for another person or entity and you are trying to operate in the same market, then you will rightfully be prevented from using your name for your goods or services.

Anonymous Coward says:

Do you really think that this could possibly lower the public’s opinion of Yoko? I doubt it could actually go any lower. Its bottomed out. Can’t sink any lower. Unless she actually dug John up and sold off body parts, her opinion ratings couldn’t sink. Hell, she could probably eat Johns body parts and her opinion ratings might not suffer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ever wonder why you have never heard of another actor named John Wayne? Ever wonder why you have never heard of two actors having the same name?

To get a SAG card, you can’t use a name of a union actor (living or dead) and if you are a new and upcoming actor named Dustin Hoffman, you have to change your name to become a union member. You also can’t appear on screen without being a union member. Not sure if that goes for game show contestants, who become temporary SAG members.

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