Protecting the Money Maker: 5 Celebrity Trademarks

Protecting the Money Maker: 5 Celebrity Trademarks

by Heleigh Bostwick, August 2010

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If you love reality television, you've probably watched Jersey Shore. And you've probably heard about the guy who wants to trademark “The Situation,” which is Jersey Shore star Mike Sorrentino's nickname for his abs.

Think that's odd? Think again. Celebrities are a brand unto themselves. Many trademark their stage names and personas; a few, like Paris Hilton, trademark their expressions, and some, like Nadya Suleman, trademark their media nicknames. With that in mind, here's a quick look at some celebrity trademarks in the news.

1. Mike Sorrentino (Jersey Shore): “The Situation”

Not just one, but two guys filed applications in 2010 for the trademark “The Situation,” a nickname that Mike Sorrentino, star of the reality show Jersey Shore has given to his abs. Mike, who lives in South Jersey, wants to use the trademark for bathing suits, underwear, and other merchandise. The other applicant is Mike's brother, Marc, who happens to be a porn star and also wants to use the name on underwear.

2. Nadya Suleman: “OctoMom”

Nadya Suleman became an overnight media sensation after the single mother, already the mother of six children, gave birth to octuplets in January 2009. Despite reportedly disliking the nickname that the media gave her, Suleman nonetheless sees opportunity and future profits in the “OctoMom” (with a capital “M”) name and has applied to register it as a trademark for future licensing opportunities, including a diaper line and a TV show.

3. Paris Hilton: “That's Hot”

In most cases, commonly used phrases, such as “that's hot,” are exempt from trademark protection, but Paris Hilton was able to work around this. How? Because the Paris Hilton “That's hot” trademark only applies when used in certain situations, which include clothing, electronic devices, and alcohol.

4. National Football League: “Who Dat”

T-shirt makers were issued cease and desist orders by the National Football League (NFL) during Super Bowl XLIV. Why? The t-shirts had “Who Dat” written on them, the unofficial slogan and abbreviated version of the New Orleans Saints chant “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints." The NFL claimed that use of the “Who Dat” infringed on a trademark they own. However, two brothers also claimed that they owned the phrase. The NFL eventually dropped the case, admitting that they didn't own the phrase.

5. Curtis Jackson: “50 Cent”

Curtis Jackson, whose stage name “50 Cent” is a registered trademark, filed a lawsuit against Taco Bell in July 2008, claiming that the fast food company had violated his trademark. How so? Taco Bell had sent out a fake letter, suggesting that 50 Cent change his name to "79 Cent," "89 Cent," or "99 Cent." The purpose of the letter was to promote Taco Bell's Value Menu. The letter wasn't sent to Jackson himself, but did make it into the news, which is how Jackson found out about it. The gist of the lawsuit was that Taco Bell used his trademarked persona and stage name to promote Taco Bell's business and products. The case was settled for undisclosed terms in November 2009.

More Info:

NFL: ‘Who Dat' Gear Violates Saints Trademark

50 Cent Sues Taco Bell

'Octomom' seeks to trademark nickname for TV, diaper line

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