You may recall that DuetsBlog informed you in May of 2016 (here) that Beyoncé filed suit in New York federal court against a company and its owners who were using the mark Feyoncé on apparel and other products, such as mugs. She has now dismissed the lawsuit—likely based on a settlement (although the settlement has not been reported yet, and if there is a confidentiality provision in the agreement we may never know for sure).

Beyoncé was understandably troubled when the company began using both Feyoncé (rhyming with her name, the only difference being the beginning letter) and “Single Ladies,” which is the same name as Beyoncé’s famous Grammy award winning Song of the Year. In her complaint, Beyoncé explains that the song “tells the tale of female empowerment – the protagonist celebrates her newly found status as a single woman in a dance club telling her ex-boyfriend (who is jealous of the attention that she is receiving from other men) that if ‘you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it.” Beyoncé alleged that defendants were “seeking to capitalize on the notoriety of ‘Single Ladies’… defendants are selling merchandise bearing the ‘Feyoncé’ mark – a misspelling of ‘fiancé’ intended to call to mind ‘Beyoncé’ and her famous song.”

Beyoncé brought a motion for summary judgment. In denying the motion, the court found that there were genuine questions of fact regarding whether there was a likelihood of confusion. It was not enough that the company had tried to “capitalize off the exceedingly famous ‘Beyoncé’ mark.” There were still questions as to whether consumers would believe that Beyoncé was associated with the ‘Feyoncé’ products.

Beyoncé takes intellectual property rights seriously (as we all should). You may recall we blogged about her efforts to protect intellectual property related to her daughter Blue Ivy Carter, here, here and here.

We have likely not seen the last of Beyoncé’s efforts to protect intellectual property.

Celebrity blogs and music magazines were abuzz with the news that Jay-Z and Beyonce “lost their bid” to trademark their daughter’s name BLUE IVY.  “Jay-Z and Beyonce Can’t Trademark BLUE IVY.”  “Jay-Z and Beyonce Lose Right to Trademark BLUE IVY.”   Hold your horses, single ladies, you might want to check on it.  They got about 99 goods and services in their application for BLUE IVY CARTER, but event planning ain’t one.

While it’s true that an event planning company named Blue Ivy Events was granted a trademark registration for BLUE IVY first, the registration covers only the following services:

  • Event planning and management for marketing, branding, promoting or advertising the goods and services of others; Special event planning for business purposes; Special event planning for commercial, promotional or advertising purposes; Online retail store services and retail store services featuring paintings, wedding portraits and invitations; Personal management services for promotional, corporate and party entertainers
  • Consultation in the field of special event planning for social entertainment purposes; Special event planning for social entertainment purposes; Party and wedding planning and coordination services; Party and wedding planning consultation services; Providing information in the field of wedding party planning; Rental of party decorations and wedding decorations

Meanwhile, the BLUE IVY CARTER application has a plethora of goods and services – including beauty products, toys, baby products, electronic devices, online retail store services, and entertainment services – and will be published for opposition soon.  The only tweaks made to the BLUE IVY CARTER application in view of BLUE IVY were to eliminate jewelry and apparel from the application and to narrow the scope of the online retail store services and entertainment services claimed to differentiate it from the registered services of another BLUE IVY registration for “retail store services featuring clothing, jewelry, home and clothing accessories, and giftware” owned by Blue Ivy LLC of Sturgeon Bay, WI.

A couple things stood out to me from the BLUE IVY application.  First, the owner of Blue Ivy Events filed it after the BLUE IVY CARTER application was filed.  So it’s good to be aware that it’s never too late to file a trademark application – you might even get some press for it.  In addition, the BLUE IVY application filing stunningly included the following as a specimen:

The specimen includes a picture of the happy couple and the tagline “Where Platinum Events Are Born” – voluntarily drawing a little too close of a connection between the two marks before the Trademark Office.

We’ve blogged about Jay-Z and Beyonce filing this before and the brand value in a celebrity baby’s name.  I did a pretty cursory search of the Trademark Office’s records, and I was unable to find any other trademark filings for celebrity baby names in the aftermath of the BLUE IVY CARTER filing (at least with respect to children’s apparel).  So even in the age of Kardashian and Snooki offspring, this (thankfully) doesn’t seem to be a trend – yet.  Celebrity children increasingly have value these days as they get more and more attention, and even some parody usage like Suri’s Burn Book.