Often cited by critics and the media as “the best actress of her generation”, Meryl Streep (real name Mary Louise Streep) hardly needs an introduction. She has been nominated for a record 21 Academy Awards (winning three), along with winning six Golden Globes, three Oscars and three Emmys.
Streep reportedly filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office on 22 January 2018. The application requests that the name Meryl Streep be trademarked for “entertainment services, movie appearances, speaking engagements and autographs”. If successful, the application would give Ms Streep exclusive rights to the use of her name and protect it from unauthorised commercial use.
From Beyoncé to David & Victoria Beckham, plenty of celebrities have trademarked their names or catch phrases to stop unauthorised commercial use. Taylor Swift last year famously filed a string of trademarks for phrases including “Look What You Made Me Do” from her single of the same name, along with lyric “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now”. Trademark protection can prevent unauthorised use and branding on clothing, accessories and stationary.
Not all celebrity trademark applications are successful. Rapper will.i.am failed to register the trademark “I Am”.
It’s unclear what motivations are behind Streep’s trademark application. She is now aged 68 and perhaps less motivated than other celebrities when it comes to profiting from her intellectual property at this stage of her career. Increasingly celebrities are recognising the importance of trademark protection not just for power and control, but for brand-building and lucrative merchandising deals.
Trademarking is one thing, enforcing the trademark is another and often proves difficult. Those who breach the trademarks of a celebrity by creating their own merchandise for example are often huge fans of the celebrity. It’s a bad look to sue your biggest fans! Nonetheless trademarking is likely to increase as celebrities (and everyday people) recognise the value within their intellectual property.
IMAGE: Getty Images