–Sharon Armstrong, Attorney
At the risk of giving the readers of this blog the wrong impression about my tastes in entertainment, I have to mention the MTV show Jersey Shore. In just a few months, this reality television series about a group of proud New Jerseyans (or Jersyeites?) living at a beach house in the Garden State has partied, squabbled and otherwise worked itself in to the hearts of millions of viewers. The cast of memorable “characters” includes Mike “The Situation,” Jenni “J-WOWW,” and Nicole “Snooki,” among others.
With monikers like those and their rapid rise to fame – their salaries have risen from a purported hundreds of dollars per episode to $10,000 dollars per episode – it was only a matter of time before one of them sought to protect the names that many Americans can recognize in an instant. Indeed, the New York Times reports that both Snooki and The Situation are seeking trademark protection for their names.
However, parties cannot seek trademark protection simply for their names. Trademark protection is extended to the use of a name or designation in connection with goods and services. Many celebrities file applications for the services that they provide as a natural result of being famous and on television – entertainment services. Snooki has done this, filing
an application for “entertainment in the nature of personal appearances by a television personality” with the addition of “printed matter, namely, books.”
But Mike “The Situation” does not appear to have filed for these services yet. Instead, the USPTO database reveals four recently filed, pending applications for THE SITUATION – all by different owners, none of whom are an individual named Mike – including “clothing for domestic pets, dog apparel,” “eau de toilette,” “clothing, namely t-shirts and underwear,” and other types of clothing too numerous to list here. Given the range of subjects covered by the characters of Jersey Shore, none of these goods seems implausible – only time will tell if The Situation will live on in American popular culture as an entertainer, a purveyor of doggie duds, or a clothing label.