According to new reports Rihanna has trademarked her last name, Fenty, in connection with several retails goods. A trademark search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website shows that Rihanna has trademarked the following: Fenty Swimwear, Fenty Swim, Fenty Nails, Fenty Makeup, Fenty Lingerie, Fenty Intimates, Fenty Face, Fenty Cosmetics, Fenty Clothing, Fenty Beauty, Fenty Apparel.
The number of trademarks and the fact that they are all associated with retail goods somewhat indicates that the Bahamian singer is considering expanding her empire to include fashion goods. In the past, Rihanna co-designed or created products for larger lines, such as MAC Cosmetics, River Island, and her own perfume lines, which have done very well in the marketplace.
What is interesting to me is that Rihanna was able to trademark her last name at all. Oftentimes, when a person or business attempts to trademark a personal name, the USPTO will only grant the trademark if the person or business shows that the name has acquired secondary meaning. Under trademark law, secondary meaning is when consumers associate the mark to the specific company.
During my third year of law school, when I was clerking at a firm in Beverly Hills, I was given the task of filing four trademarks for a client who is a dermatologist. All four trademarks contained the client’s last name. Initially, when I filed the trademarks, they were denied because of the use of a surname in the mark. The USPTO said that there had to be proof of secondary meaning amongst consumers in order for the client to receive trademark protection. The client had been using the name for about 8 years in his clinics and centers and so he had a significant amount of proof to show secondary meaning.
This is why I find that Rihanna was granted trademarks for her last name, when she hasn’t started any ventures or businesses with her last name. There isn’t any real proof (that I can think of, anyways) that shows secondary meaning. Furthermore, Rihanna doesn’t use her last name professionally in her music or brand collaborations. She simply goes by Rihanna. And, I’m not sure if many people know that her last name is in fact Fenty. But, perhaps, within her business dealings or other instances like that, she has used her last name and has provided evidence of secondary meaning.
While it puzzles me that Rihanna was given trademark protection for her last name, I also think that it was an incredibly smart move on her part. Trademark protection is probably one of the most important things a fashion brand can do when they are starting to build their company and brand. The amount of knockoffs and counterfeits is countless, and having federal protection can really help the brand combat the counterfeiters. And, by preventing any counterfeiting from happening even before releasing any collections or lines, is a very smart business move on Rihanna’s part.
Can’t wait to see what comes of these trademarks!!
source: “Trademark Documents Reveal That Rihanna May Launch Her Own Fashion And Beauty Brand,” Swagger New York.