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Trademark dispute pits power couple against wedding planner

News and Notes Focused on the 3 Public Faces of IP Law

  • Brand Image Protection - Trademark Law
  • Visual Image Protection - Copyright Law
  • Personal Image Protection - Right of Publicity Law

The Image Protection Law blog has been created in order to share stories and information on the legal aspects of: 1) the marketplace reputation of a company or product captured in its trademark, 2) published or publicly-displayed artwork, photography, and any created visual design, and 3) use of a person's photograph or likeness for product promotion or other commercial purposes.

The "IP3" share at least one thing in common: Image is everything. In these posts let's look at what that means in the realm of intellectual property in the news, but let's also be prepared to explore if there's something more beyond "everything." Don't forget, the intellectual in "intellectual property" doesn't mean smart or brainy, although by nature true creators often are. The word is used to refer to any creation, i.e., a "product of the mind." While this blog will be regularly updated, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these posts.

No married couple in history has sold more musical recordings than Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter and her husband Shawn Corey Carter, better known professionally as Beyoncé and Jay-Z, of course. The California residents' twins were born in the state, though their eldest daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, was born in New York in January of 2012.

The 7-year-old is the focus of intellectual property litigation with her parents on one side and the owner of a wedding planning business called Blue Ivy on the other.

Beyoncé has sought registration  since 2012 for her daughter's name in connection withentertainment-related goods and services, not wedding planning services, and Wendy Morales, owner of the Blue Ivy wedding and social events planning business has opposed it.

In court documents, Morales has pointed out that her business is older than the girl and that if a trademark is granted to the young Carter girl, her business could be harmed by consumers who will mistake one for the other.

Beyoncé has addressed that argument in court documents as well, arguing that the claim "that consumers are likely to be confused between a boutique wedding event planning business and Blue Ivy Carter, the daughter of two of the most famous performers in the world, is frivolous and should be refused in its entirety."

The singer-songwriter-actress goes a step further, arguing that her daughter is a "cultural icon." That claim appears to rest on a couple of points: two days after her birth, her father released "Glory," a song that included the two-day-old baby's cries near the end of the track.

Listed as "B.I.C." in the credits, she became the youngest person to ever appear on a Billboard song chart. She made another appearance on Billboard's charts when "Brown Skin Girl," sung with her mother for "The Lion King: The Gift" album, debuted last month. She also attended the film premiere with her mom and appeared in Beyoncé's music video for the "Lion King" song "Spirit."

Morales has stated in interviews that the power couple has no plans to use the trademark in their far-flung entertainment business interests.

The years-long trademark dispute is finally headed to court, where the matter will be resolved.

Those faced with a similarly difficult disagreement should contact an attorney experienced in state and federal court systems, as well as in proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

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