Sarah Palin Denied Trademark over Technicalities in Application
This past weekend, Sarah Palin's trademark application was rejected over simple mistakes such as failing to personally sign the application. We're left to wonder, What was her attorney thinking?
This is a prime example of the downfall of using a general practice attorney to deal with intellectual property matters.
The Palin's long-time family attorney, Thomas Van Flein, filed a trademark application for Sarah Palin's name in November, 2010, just 3 days after the midterm elections. The two most apparent issues in the application were 1) the application wasn't signed personally by Sarah Palin and 2) the application didn't give adequate citations of her name being used commercially.
The application states that Palin wanted to trademark her name for commercial uses including "providing motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values," and in "providing a website featuring information about political issues."
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) requires examples of how a name has been used for commercial purposes or used in the actual sale or advertising of services. Palin's examples included a Fox News webpage with the headline, "Palin to Join Fox News as a Contributor" and a Washington Speakers Bureau screenshot of her biography. Karen K. Bush, the USPTO examining attorney, concluded, "that the examples were insufficient and did not show any commercial use connected to political elections."
This coupled with the obvious omission of her own signature highlights the problems inherent with using attorneys who are unfamiliar with USPTO policies and procedures to interface with the USPTO. The process has been transferred since then to a different attorney in Van Flein's firm.
"The applications will be fixed, and the trademarks are likely to be granted," said attorney John Tiemessen, now handling the trademark process for Palin.
Palin has until the end of May, 2011, to correct the issues which caused the rejection of her application. It looks like she has a good chance of obtaining the trademark as long as she clears up the pending issues.
The simple act of trademarking a political name is rare. The only other political figure to do so was Ronald Reagon, and that happened while he was a movie star - not during his political tenure. Most politicians don't use their name for commercial purposes. For many people, this move to trademark her brand name only serves to solidify Palin's role as an entertainer over a politician. For others, this is proof of an entirely new era of political activities.
What are your thoughts on what her trademark application says about Palin's role as a politician or celebrity?
February 7, 2011
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