Trademark your Personal Brand – your Last Name
Lots of publications advocate generating your personal brand, for people trying to enter the job market or applying to prestigious schools. What does this mean? A personal brand should be recognizable by the people whom you are trying to get noticed by. In a nutshell, it should be simple and memorable, have a story to tell, and give viewers an idea of what to expect when they accept your application.
How can you protect your personal brand? Oftentimes, personal brand comes down to a name or a last name. Especially in family dynasties, last name is paramount and first names often follow the dynasty’s founder, Jr., II, III etc. You can protect your name against impersonation by a number of laws that protect character and reputation. But you may also be able to protect your personal brand through trademark. Let me explain.
Surnames cannot be trademarked unless they have built up sufficient goodwill that they are distinctive. This is known as acquired distinctiveness or secondary meaning for the surname. Proof of substantial and continuous use must be provided for the five preceding years. That means a large amount of social media or web exposure, perhaps news stories using the name in association with the service you provide. If you can’t show the five years at filing, you can receive a registration on the Supplemental Register, and you will have five years to show the substantial and continuous use.
Once you have a registration for your personal brand, you can prevent others from taking advantage of the goodwill you have worked hard to build up, and you should have that edge in the marketplace that you have been looking for with a personal brand.