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Should I Register a Trade Mark Over My Name as an Artist?

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As an artist, your name is not just your identity. Instead, it is also your brand. Your name ultimately represents your artistic style, reputation and body of work. In the competitive art world, protecting your name and brand is crucial. One way to safeguard your artistic identity is by registering a trade mark for your name. This article will take you through the benefits of registering a trade mark for your name as an artist.

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Understanding Trade Marks

A trade mark is a form of intellectual property that identifies and distinguishes the goods or services of one party from those of another. It can be a:

  • name; 
  • logo; 
  • symbol; 
  • phrase; or 
  • design representing a brand or business. 

A registered trade mark provides its owner exclusive rights to use that mark concerning the goods or services covered by the registration. A registered trade mark also allows you to prevent others from using a similar mark in a way that may cause confusion among consumers.

Benefits of Registering a Trade Mark for Your Name

As an artist, your name is a personal identifier and a valuable asset that can contribute to your success. Registering a trade mark for your name can provide you with several benefits.

1. Protecting Your Brand

Registering a trade mark for your name can help protect your brand identity in the art market. It gives you the exclusive right to use your name in connection with your art, preventing others from using a similar name that may confuse consumers. It also allows you to establish a stronger legal position in case of any disputes related to your name or brand. 

2. Building Trust and Credibility

Having a registered trade mark for your name adds a level of professionalism and credibility to your artistic career. It signals potential buyers, collectors, and investors that you take your art seriously and are committed to protecting your brand. It can also help you gain trust and loyalty from your customers, as they can rely on your name and brand being legally protected. 

3. Enhancing Marketability

A registered trade mark can make your artwork more marketable. It can increase the value of your art as it distinguishes you from other artists and adds a unique selling point to your work. In addition, buyers and collectors may be more willing to invest in art with a registered trade mark, knowing that it is an original piece from a reputable artist. 

4. Expanding Business Opportunities

Registering a trade mark for your name can open up new business opportunities. This is because it can provide you with the legal rights to license or sell your trade mark to others, generating additional revenue streams for your art business. It can also give you a competitive advantage in the art market, as it prevents others from using a similar name or brand that may dilute your market share. 

5. Preventing Trade Mark Infringement

Registering a trade mark for your name can help prevent others from infringing on your brand. It provides you with the legal tools to take action against anyone who tries to use a similar name or brand that may confuse consumers. Therefore, it can save you from the hassle and costs of litigation and deter others from profiting from your name or brand.

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Registering a Trade Mark for Your Name

As an artist, registering a trade mark for your name can be a wise decision, but it may not always be necessary or feasible for every artist. Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to register a trade mark for your name.

Legal Requirements

Artists who are using a name other than their own will need to consider whether there are potential conflicts with other individuals’ rights. 

In New Zealand, the trade mark Commissioner has the power to decide whether to register a mark that has the name or a representation of a person. The trade mark examiner will assess name applications on a case-by-case basis. However, such concerns will only arise if it is ambiguous over who the trade mark refers to. If such a concern is raised, you would need to obtain written consent from the person or their legal representative unless the person in question has been deceased for more than 10 years. 

However, consent is not required where it is clear that the applicant is the person referred to in the mark. 

Artistic Career Goals

If you are planning to establish a long-term career as an artist and build a brand around your name, registering a trade mark for your name can provide you with the legal protection and credibility to support your career goals. It can help you establish a strong market presence, prevent others from using a similar name or brand, and enhance your business opportunities. 

Artistic Style and Reputation

If you have a unique artistic style and a growing reputation in the art market, registering a trade mark for your name can be beneficial in protecting your artistic identity. It can help you safeguard your reputation and distinguish your art from others, especially if your name has become synonymous with your art. 

Budget and Resources

Registering a trade mark involves costs, including:

  • filing fees; 
  • legal fees (if you choose to work with a trade mark lawyer); and 
  • renewal fees for maintaining the registration. 

Consider your budget and available resources before registering a trade mark for your name. If the costs outweigh the potential benefits, it may not be the right decision for you. 

Risk Tolerance

Although trade mark registration provides legal protection, it does not guarantee absolute protection against infringement. Enforcement of trade mark rights may require time, effort, and financial resources, including litigation. Consider your risk tolerance and willingness to take legal action against potential infringers before registering a trade mark for your name. 

Artistic Name and Brand

Your artistic name may be unique and already well-established in the art market. Likewise, you may have been using it for a significant period without any conflicts. In this case, you may already have some common law rights in your name, even without a trade mark registration. However, registering a trade mark can provide additional legal protection and advantages.

Key Takeaways

If you are an artist, you may consider whether you need to register a trade mark for your name. After all, your name is your entire brand. Some benefits of registering a trade mark for your name include:

  • protecting your brand;
  • building trust and credibility; 
  • enhancing marketability;
  • expanding business operations; and
  • preventing infringement. 

If you need assistance deciding if you need to register your name as a trade mark, our experienced trade mark lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0800 005 570 or visit our membership page.

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