Meryl Streep has made an application to trademark her name with the US Trademark Office, to prevent others exploiting it.
Meryl is not the first to take such action, with applications being filed by David and Victoria Beckham, Paris Hilton, and members of the Kardashian family.
Unusually, however, Meryl has applied to trademark her name in relation to ‘live, televised and movie appearances’, ‘speaking engagements’, and ‘autograph signings’. This is rather narrow in comparison to trademarks filed by, for example, Paris Hilton and Kylie Jenner, who have trademarked their names in relation to clothing, make-up, and other beauty accessories.
As a result, Meryl has not blocked the possibility of people making Meryl Streep perfume, clothes, or toys.
Meryl is also restricting the trademark to her name only, whereas other celebrities, such as Taylor Swift, have filed trademark applications for catchphrases from their song lyrics, including the words ‘this sick beat’, and ‘Nice to meet you. Where you been?’, for use on clothing, notebooks and hair accessories.
Although celebrities trademarking their names is becoming more common, the protection for personal names is not absolute. US law requires that the name must have gathered a ‘secondary meaning’, so the name must signify more than a personal identity in order to be registered. The rationale behind this is that the law does not want to prevent others from using their own name in relation to products – unless by using their own name they are creating confusion in the market place.