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USPTO Holds Veto Power Over President Obama Trademark Applications
by Guest Blogger
At the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday, President Obama started his remarks by acknowledging that the rollout of HealthCare.gov could have gone better. The president joked that "in 2008, my slogan was 'Yes, we can!' In 2013, my slogan was "Control-Alt-Delete.'"
HealthCare.gov is a key piece of the president's health care plan, commonly referred to as "Obamacare". Obamacare has been the target of controversy since its passage in 2010. It has also been the subject of several unflattering trademark applications, such as the following:
OBAMACARE. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE
OBAMACARE - NATIONAL DAY OF PROTEST
A trademark application was also filed for the following design:
One thing all of these trademark applications have in common (besides being critical of Obamacare) is that they were all rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The USPTO reviews all trademark applications for compliance with federal law and rules. Section 2(c) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1052(c), bars the registration of a mark that consists of or comprises a name, portrait or signature which identifies a particular living individual, except by the written consent of such individual. Section 2(c) applies not only to full names, but also to any first name, surname, shortened name, pseudonym, stage name, title, or nickname that identifies a particular living individual. With respect to the Obamacare trademark applications, the USPTO found that Obamacare is a commonly known term concerning health care policy referencing President Obama, and consumers are likely to make the connection to the President as it creates a direct association.
For the Obamacare trademark applicants, the failure to obtain President Obama's written consent led to the rejection of the applications. The same principle applies to all living indivuals, not just sitting presidents. For example, the USPTO recently rejected an application to register the mark JOHNNY FOOTBALL since the applicant failed to obtain the written consent of quarterback Johnny Manziel aka "Johnny Football". Therefore, if you want to obtain a federal trademark registration that consists of a name of a living individual, then you must obtain that person's written consent before the application will be allowed to register. Moreover, the written consent must include a statement of that person's consent to your registration of the identifying matter as a trademark, and not just that person's consent to permit you to use the mark.
The lawyers at Trademarkology provide online trademark registration services backed by the experience and service of one of the nation's oldest law firms. Click here to begin the process of protecting your brand name with a federally registered trademark.