Big, New Kardashian Brand Or A Split With Blac Chyna?
Blac Chyna, reality star and Rob Kardashian’s fiancée, filed a trademark application to register her future married name, Angela Renee Kardashian, for entertainment and social media purposes. A team of attorneys for Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian subsequently filed an opposition to the registration of that mark, stating that Chyna was “deliberately seeking to profit from the goodwill and popularity” of the Kardashian name. Although the Kardashians reportedly called a truce with Chyna and claimed that the block was merely legal protocol, the opposition proceeding is still pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
It appears it won’t be lifted as an alleged hack of Chyna’s Instagram account reveals that she planned on applying for it upon marriage to Rob Kardashian with or without the Kardashians’ permission. This may be in jeopardy now as she’s left Rob and taken their child.
So How Important Is A Trademark?
A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. Trademarks are protected by intellectual property rights.
At the national/regional level, trademark protection can be obtained through registration, by filing an application for registration with the national/regional trademark office and paying the required fees. At the international level, you have two options: Either you can file a trademark application with the trademark office of each country in which you are seeking protection, or you can file a Community Trademark with the EU and/or file for a group trademark through the Madrid Protocol, which covers 86 countries, including most of the industrialized world.
In principle, a trademark registration will confer an exclusive right to the use of the registered trademark. This implies that the trademark can be exclusively used by its owner, or licensed to another party for use in return for payment. Registration provides legal certainty and reinforces the position of the right holder, for example, in case of litigation.
The term of trademark registration can vary, but is usually ten years. It can be renewed indefinitely on payment of additional fees. Trademark rights are private rights and protection is enforced through court orders.
A word or a combination of words, letters and numerals can perfectly constitute a trademark. But trademarks may also consist of drawings, symbols, three-dimensional features such as the shape and packaging of goods, non-visible signs such as sounds or fragrances, or color shades used as distinguishing features – the possibilities are almost limitless.
What It Would Mean For Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian?
Trademarks are source identifiers, meaning that their purpose is to assure the public that products and services are indeed coming from a certain person or entity. The Kardashians make a substantial amount of money off trademarks with their names. For this reason, the Kardashian clan is notoriously, and understandably, protective over its intellectual property. It wasn’t long ago that the Kardashian sisters took a cosmetics distributor to court over a line called Kardashian Beauty, which used their namesake and likenesses to promote a line of makeup. The judge in that suit sided with the sisters, stating that, “Without the right to their names and images, the Kardashians would be unable to exploit their efforts to establish their public personae.”
Jeff Kobulnick explains how even if it will eventually be her legal name, there’s a good chance Chyna won’t be able to register the term as a trademark. In doing so, Chyna would be aligning herself with the $122.5 million Kardashian brand, which the family has carefully built over the past decade, and includes reality television shows, clothing lines, mobile games, etc. If Chyna were to market her products or services under a Kardashian brand, it could be effectively argued that this would cause a fair amount of confusion for the public, and even dilute the family brand.
The Kardashians have an infamously aggressive business model. In trademarking what would be her new last name, Chyna could potentially damage the massive empire the sisters and their momager (a term Kardashian matriarch Kris is actually attempting to trademark) have built over the years. Until the trademark is officially registered, it remains to be seen whether the family’s white flag is the real deal, or merely damage control.