What’s in a name? A lot, apparently, as celebs abroad have realised the value, or potential value at this stage, of protecting the names of their offspring, as a brand.

This weekend, the names of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s twins were revealed – RUMI and SIR.  This bit of gossip is interesting to a jurist sitting behind her desk, because, apparently, applications have already been filed to register the dynamic duo’s names as trade marks in respect of an array of things in the US. Talk about forward thinking!

Sources have revealed (i.e. the registry in South Africa has been consulted) that no applications have recently been filed for RUMI and SIR in South Africa.  We are sure that South Africa is high up on the list of countries where the Carters will wish to protect the names of their tremendous tots and we expect instructions any day now (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Will the marks be accepted in South Africa? Our Trade Marks Act does specifically include a name as part of the definition of a mark which can be the subject of a trade mark application. In fact, our Act specifically provides that where application is made for registration of a trade mark which consists of a name, the registrar may require the applicant to furnish him with the consent of that person.

We are sure that an instruction to file the perfect pair’s names will be accompanied by a request that a search be conducted to determine whether the names are available for registration.  In other words, the Carters will still have to determine whether another party perhaps owns earlier rights to a mark which could prevent the registration of RUMI and or SIR.  Gasp! Cue Beyoncé’s song “Best thing I never had”.

Let’s just suppose that the dashing double are able to “Run the World” and the marks are capable of being registered, the Carters will have 5 years following the issuance of the registration certificates, to launch their empire in SA.  The principle of “use it or lose it” is equally applicable to trade marks and a trade mark registration can be removed, if not used within 5 years after grant.

Watch this space…I wonder whether the likes of Pearl Thusi, Khanyi Mbau, Emtee, T-bo and Loyiso Bala have already taken steps to stake claims on behalf of their offspring.

Jani Cronjé
Partner | Trade Mark Attorney
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