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Stephen Hawking has trademarked his name – should you?

Stephen Hawking has decided to protect his image and name by becoming trademarked. This is not unheard of; Einstein did it to protect the famous sticking out tongue image, and Brian Cox became a trademark in 2012.

Hawking has applied to become a brand via the Intellectual Property Office. This will give him power to stop people using his image on unofficial products and allow him to sell his own line of branded merchandise. He has applied to trademark his name for charitable purposes rather than to make a profit from his name.

You can trademark your own name if there is a viable commercial reason to do so. The Intellectual Property Office will only consider your name as a trademark if you are using it in commerce and it is an identifier of goods or services.

Trademarking your own name can sound like a brilliant idea but it can come with some pitfalls. The name can become the brand itself and all goodwill will be associated with it rather than yourself. When you picture Ferrari do you see a gorgeous red sports car or an Italian man?

And problems can arise if don’t look after your name properly. If you sign over the branding you may lose the right to work under your own name. An example of this is in the case of Sigerson and Miranda Morrison who started the shoe line, Sigerson Morrison. They gained a financial backer and signed over their brand. But when they fell out with their financial backer they were fired and lost all rights to design under their own names. The financial backer went on to produce shoes in China rather than Italy as they had been, that didn’t adhere to their brand and tarnished their names irreparably.

It’s important to get strong legal advice when looking into trademarking your name and using it as Intellectual Property. And again get legal advice if planning on getting financial backing or signing any agreements that involve the use of your own name as a brand.

If you are thinking about trademarking your name or anything else that you have created or invented, please contact the expert Business Law team at Slater and Gordon. We have many years of experience in all aspects of intellectual property so call us on freephone 0800 916 9052 or contact us online and we will call you back.

Slater and Gordon have offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield, Merseyside, Derby and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.

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