The IPKat has received the following from Susy Scardocchia, a legal assistant with the First Board of Appeal, OHIM:
"I was reading The Guardian and came across this article about the Marlon Brando estate allegedly having filed an application to protect Marlon Brando's "name and image" as a trade mark before the USPTO. I checked on the USPTO website and there was the application, under No. 78462068, filed on 4 August 2004. It is a mere word mark, covering the words MARLON BRANDO.

The article, on the other hand, seems to imply that not only was the actor's name filed as a trade mark, but that his "image" and/or "likeness" are now protected as well. This is deceptive journalism. I think the public should be entitled to know that whoever wants to dress up like M.B., or copy M.B.'s style, is still free to do so, and will always be able to do so, because an "image" or a "style" are not capable of operating as trade marks and therefore cannot be registered as such".
Ms Scardocchia has touched on a sensitive issue on which US and EU attitudes may be more than a little divided. Tennessee, for example, prohibits unauthorised invididuals from getting up on stage and impersonating Elvis Presley. The IPKat invites your comments, please.

More on protection of personality here and here
BRANDS AND BRANDOS BRANDS AND BRANDOS Reviewed by Jeremy and Ilanah on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 Rating: 5


  1. I have nothing to say about the question of the extent to which rights in a "personality" should be protected. However, since it is rare to read in the mainstream press, however "quality", an article relating to IP where even the basic facts are correct, this type of misinformation is alas what is to be expected. Unfortunately, it is then this parody of what constitutes an IP right, rather than the legal reality, that informs the public's view on, for example, such questions as what should constitute patentable subject matter. How do we improve this state of affairs?

  2. One of the first celebrities who "protected" themselves as "trademarks" was Mr Michael schumacher. In 1998 he "trademarked" his own picture as international registration (Madrid) no. 704049 (cf. also no. 802826).


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