Sarah And Bristol Palin Seek To Trademark Their Names

This is, well, a little unusual:

In the last several months, Politics Daily has learned that the Palin family lawyer, Alaska attorney Thomas Van Flein, has filed applications to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark “Sarah Palin®” and “Bristol Palin®.”

According to patent office application (serial # 85170226), Van Flein registered for a trademark of “Sarah Palin” on Nov. 5, 2010 — three days after the midterm elections. The government trademark examining attorney has “found no conflicting marks that would bar registration.” In other words, nobody else had already taken the proposed trademark. A “Bristol Palin” application (serial #85130638) was filed on Sept. 15, 2010. Bristol Palin’s stint with “Dancing With the Stars” premiered on Sept. 20.

Celebrities often trademark their names to protect their image or brand from others who might try to cash in on their likeness or use their name in an inappropriate way.

Okay that makes sense on some level, but here’s where it gets weird:

For Sarah Palin’s application, there are two classes of commercial service for which her name would be a registered trademark. One is for “information about political elections” and “providing a website featuring information about political issues.” The second is for “educational and entertainment services … providing motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values.”

The “Bristol Palin” application is for “educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of life choices.”

(…)

Politicians seldom trademark their name but they might do so to prevent others from using it, for example, to sell shoddy, unapproved merchandise or “official” candidate memorabilia. A search for other political figures such as President Barack Obama and potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney do not show any pending trademark applications. It is a rarity, say trademark attorneys, for political figures to file such forms.

For good reason.

I’ll leave it for a Trademark Attorney to comment on this with expertise, but it seems to me that there are more than a few legal issues that would be raised by someone who is actually a politician (assuming that’s what Palin sees in her future) trademarking their name. Of course, this may be a sign that Palin has decided that there’s more money in being a political celebrity than in actually doing anything.

FILED UNDER: Politicians, Quick Takes, Sarah Palin, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Chad S says:

    Okay, so I’ll just refer to her as “Lady Gaga” or “The Moose Whisperer” from now on.

  2. Of course, this may be a sign that Palin has decided that there’s more money in being a political celebrity than in actually doing anything.

    We can certainly hope so.

  3. Herb says:

    Next up? A clothing line.

  4. legion says:

    Clearly, you and every other blogger out there need to brace for a blitz of C&D notices any time you put up some article Her Mooseness doesn’t feel is flattering enough…

  5. PJ says:

    “We can certainly hope so.”

    No! Vote for the republican Mondale in 2012!

    “Next up? A clothing line.”

    The Bristol Palin Chastity Belt(tm).

  6. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    “Of course, this may be a sign that Palin has decided that there’s more money in being a political celebrity than in actually doing anything.”

    Or it might be a way to sue for trademark infringement someone who decides to write something unflattering about her.

  7. PJ says:

    @Patrick T. McGuire:
    “Or it might be a way to sue for trademark infringement someone who decides to write something unflattering about her.”

    Suing for trademark infringement when people write unflattering things about her? Now, I know that this is your idea, but if she actually did this, she would be the perfect poster girl for tort reform and against frivolous law suits. The face of hypocrisy too, since I recall that she did advocate tort reform.

  8. anjin-san says:

    > Or it might be a way to sue for trademark infringement someone who decides to write something unflattering about her.

    Yea, that free speech thing is BS anyway. If someone says something about Palin she does not like, they should pay damages. Of course, this would show her to be thin-skinned, vindictive and narcissitic, which is pretty much what we have been saying about her all along.

  9. Or it might be a way to sue for trademark infringement someone who decides to write something unflattering about her.

    I had the exact same thought–that she’s going to sue news organizations and blog that are critical of her for violating her trademark. It’s a ridiculous legal theory, but oddly enough that makes me think it more likely that’s the goal.

  10. Wendy says:

    Hey, Sarah! Get out of your Ivory Tower much?

  11. Alex Knapp says:

    The obvious solution is simply to use Sarah Palin’s name in such a way that she becomes genericized, like aspirin or cellophane.

  12. falling says:

    You cannot sue someone for using your name in a story, whether the story is postive or negative…not even if you name is trademarked. She will be able to stop someone from using her name for profit without her permission. A very good idea on her part and it once Obama hears about it he may even decide to trademark his name if someone hasn’t already done it. I would if I was Obama!

  13. EddieInCA says:

    falling –

    That’s ridiculous. Do you know how many men are named “Bill Clinton” in this country? Or George Bush? It hasn’t hurt their earning potential to not have their names trademarked. Clinton has made over $50million since he left office. Do you really think that Obama will be lacking in financial opportunities when he leaves office in 2016?

    Sheesh. Sarah Palin (and her daughter) are mistaken if they think this shields them in any way. In fact, the only ones who love this are probably the army of lawyers they’ll have to keep on retainer.

  14. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***The obvious solution is simply to use Sarah Palin’s name in such a way that she becomes genericized, like aspirin or cellophane.***

    Who could possibly use Sara Palin’s name that much and in that many ways…….hahaha…um…hehe…

  15. Steven Plunk says:

    Hoorah! Another Palin non story makes it onto OTB so the haters can hate. Are we sure this didn’t come from TMZ or People Magazine? Like a nervous tic mention of her just will not go away. I guess it’s a non controllable reflexive thing. Pavlovian almost.

  16. TG Chicago says:

    I disagreed — and still do — with Milbank preemptively declaring February to be Palin-free. What I think the media should do instead is to take a serious look at whether the Palin stories they run are really worth running.

    This one was not worth running.

  17. Rick Almeida says:

    I, for one, look forward to buying Bristol Palin-brand condoms.

  18. anjin-san says:

    > the haters

    Two groups use this expression. Thirteen year old girls who are describing people who don’t like them and Palinites…