Can I Trademark my Band Name or Artist Name?
Yes you can trademark your Band Name or Artist Name under certain circumstances.
If you are using a particular word, graphic, phrase or slogan of Band Name or Artist Name, you can trademark it to prevent any other artist form using it without your permission. For example, the mark “Rolling Stones” is a registered trademark for “live musical performer…., entertainment…”. A Band Name or Artist Name trademark entitles the owner of the trademark to stop others from using their mark or a similar mark on a specific goods & services without their permission. See additional requirements below.
Trademark an Artist Name?
An artist’s name or pseudonym affixed to an “original work of art” may be registered on the Principal Register without a showing that the name identifies a series. Original works of art includes paintings, murals, sculptures, statues, jewelry, and like works that the artist personally creates. In In re Wood, 217 USPQ 1345, 1350 (TTAB 1983), the Board held that the pseudonym YSABELLA affixed to an original work of art functioned as a mark. The Board has expressly limited this holding to cases involving original works of art, stating in Wood that “[l]est we be accused of painting with too broad a brush, we hold only that an artist’s name affixed to an original work of art may be registered as a mark and that here applicant’s name, as evidenced by some of the specimens of record [the signature of the artist on a work of art], functions as a trademark for the goods set forth in the application.” In In re First Draft, 76 USPQ2d 1183, 1190 (TTAB 2005), the Board again stated that “Wood is limited in its application to cases involving original works of art and there is nothing to indicate that the panel deciding that case considered novels to be encompassed by the phrase original works of art.”
Trademark the Name of a performing artist
Any mark consisting of the name of an author used on a written work, or the name of a performing artist on a sound recording, must be refused registration under §§1, 2, and 45 of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §§1051, 1052, and 1127, if the mark is used solely to identify the writer or the artist. See In re Polar Music Int’l AB, 714 F.2d 1567, 1572, 221 USPQ 315, 318 (Fed. Cir. 1983); In re Arnold, 105 USPQ2d 1953, 1957-60 (TTAB 2013); In re First Draft, Inc. 76 USPQ2d 1183, 1190 (TTAB 2005); In re Peter Spirer, 225 USPQ 693, 695 (TTAB 1985). Written works include books or columns, and may be presented in print, recorded, or electronic form. Likewise, sound recordings may be presented in recorded or electronic form.
However, the name of the author or performer may be registered if:
- (1) It is used on a series of written or recorded works; and
- (2) The application contains sufficient evidence that the name identifies the source of the series and not merely the writer of the written work or the name of the performing artist.
In re Arnold, 105 USPQ2d at 1958.
If the applicant cannot show a series, or can show that there is a series but cannot show that the name identifies the source of the series, the mark may be registered on the Supplemental Register in an application under §1 or §44 of the Trademark Act. These types of marks may not be registered on the Principal Register under §2(f).
By Mat Grell, US Trademark Attorney