Dear Trademark Filers: You Cannot Get Trademarks Based On Barack Obama's Name

from the president-elect-or-opportunity? dept

With the election of Barack Obama last week, some observers have noted the not-surprising rush by folks over the past few months to try to file for trademarks built off of Obama’s name, including Barack Star, Obama — O Baby! and (my favorite) Pet Barack (a play on the old “pet rock”). Of course, the USPTO has shot all of these down as not actually being approved by the President-Elect, while noting that any products using such trademarks would likely confuse people into believing they were approved by him.

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Comments on “Dear Trademark Filers: You Cannot Get Trademarks Based On Barack Obama's Name”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: double standard?

Um, totally different circumstances.

In this case, people are filing for trademarks by basing the object of the filing on the name of the President-Elect. The Patent Office, NOT the President-Elect, rejected the requests because the whole POINT to trademark law is a consumer protection. As they noted, it would be too easy for people to think the President-Elect endorsed the products because his rather uncommon name was part of their trademark.

In the MLK case, an important historical icon’s name and image were being put on merchandise and the family wanted to stop that, either because they weren’t “getting a cut” (why should they?) or because they feel it was disrespectful. There is an intangible threshold of when you can and can’t do that sort of thing.

Take Jesus Christ for example. The majority of scholars agree that Jesus was a real person (NOTE: This does NOT mean they believe he was the Son of God). You don’t see various churches scrambling over people that make What Would Jesus Do bracelets and bumper stickers or the “Buddy Christ” (ala Dogma) t-shirts. If they tried, it would get slapped down as well.

Or another example, Napolean Bonapart. You can throw that image on anything and sell it and not have to worry about it. It isn’t like France will come and sue you succesfully.

Andrew Yu-Jen Wang says:

Speaking of Barack Obama:

Barack Obama is a racial-minority individual, and in his heart and mind he inevitably does not endorse hate crimes committed by George W. Bush.

George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism (indicated in my blog).

George W. Bush did in fact commit innumerable hate crimes.

And I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed other hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention.

Many people know what Bush did.

And many people will know what Bush did—even to the end of the world.

Bush was absolute evil.

Bush is now like a fugitive from justice.

Bush is a psychological prisoner.

Bush has a lot to worry about.

Bush can technically be prosecuted for hate crimes at any time.

In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

I am not sure where I had read it before, but anyway, it is a linguistically excellent statement, and it goes kind of like this: “If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Oh wait—off the top of my head—I think the quotation came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

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