Less than three weeks after the birth of Blue Ivy Carter last January, Jay-Z and Beyoncé did something that might only occur to two world-famous, business-savvy music stars: they filed an application to trademark the name of their first child.
Their application lists a Delaware-based limited liability company called BGK Trademark Holdings—a likely nod to Beyonce’s initials—as the owner. The filing contains an exhaustive catalog of potential uses for the Blue Ivy name, including but not limited to fragrances, hair spray, baby strollers, baby bibs, diaper bags and, curiously, soccer balls (the full list can be found on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website).
Needless to say, the practice of trademarking proper names isn’t all that common. In fact, it’s generally not allowed at all, except under unusual circumstances—and Blue Ivy would seem to qualify.
“The trademark statute prohibits the registration of a mark that is ‘primarily merely a surname,’” a USPTO spokesperson informed me in an email. “[But] there is no general prohibition against registering first names or full personal names, as long as they truly function as trademarks.”
In other words, if the Carters had named their daughter Jane, they probably wouldn’t have had a chance of getting a trademark approved. With Blue Ivy, they’ve got a chance, at least if they can prove that the name will be used as other trademarks might.
Thus far, the application hasn’t yet been officially approved. In February, the filing received an “Office Action,” meaning that the USPTO has asked the Carters’ lawyers at Reed Smith LLP to provide a satisfactory amount additional information within six months. If that doesn’t happen, the application could be rejected. The attorneys aren’t concerned.
“[This] happens with regard to a large majority of trademark applications,” Reed Smith’s Greg Shatan told me in an email. “Most of the Office Action we received consists of requests for additional information, which are essentially technical in nature. We are in the process of responding to them, and will submit all responses within the allotted time.”
Regardless of what eventually happens with the Blue Ivy filing, it won’t be the first time Jay-Z tried to trademark something related to the color. Nearly a decade ago, the hip-hop mogul found himself on the verge of finalizing a deal with Chrysler to create a Jay-Z branded Jeep Commander; the luxury SUV would have rolled off the lot with a sound system preloaded with all his songs and an interior swathed in butter-cream leather. But the key to the deal was the exterior color: a trademarked shade of Jay-Z Blue paint.
For the full story on Jay-Z Blue and the Jay-Z Jeep, check out the book Empire State Of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office by Zack O’Malley Greenburg — the new paperback edition, complete with two new chapters and a foreword by Steve Forbes — is available in stores on June 26th.