The Hollywood Reporter reports today that celebrity manager and mother of six Kris Jenner “is proud of her role as combined mom and manager and is filing to trademark the ‘momager’ nickname she coined.” The article further notes that, “[i]f the filed trademark is approved, Jenner would be entitled to sue anyone who uses the phrase without her permission.” Efforts to secure federal trademark protection for a professional name, assumed title, or catchphrase are common in the entertainment industry (see earlier posts on this subject here, here, here, here, here, and here), so Jenner’s similar efforts are unremarkable. What is remarkable, however, is the prevalence of what World Trademark Review has called “the confused and inaccurate reporting of trademark law in the media” (see earlier posts on this subject here and here).
In the instant case, the trouble begins in the very first sentence of the article, which states that Jenner is “filing to trademark the ‘momager’ nickname she coined.” The phrase “filing to trademark” suggests that Jenner is seeking formal protection of the term MOMAGER for the first time, thus making it newsworthy, when in fact, she already owns two federal registrations, dating back to 2011, for the MOMAGER mark for a variety of management and entertainment-related services (see here and here). Moreover, it is unclear whether the term MOMAGER was actually coined by Jenner, as the term has been registered by a different (and apparently unrelated) party since 2007. The most consequential error, though, is the assertion that “[i]f the filed trademark is approved, Jenner would be entitled to sue anyone who uses the phrase without her permission.” One of the more common misconceptions about U.S. trademark law is the notion that the use and registration of a word or phrase entitles the user/registrant to block all other usage of the term, regardless of how the term is used. In reality, U.S. trademark rights are generally limited to the goods and/or services with which the mark is actually used in commerce, which is why Taylor Swift’s trademark application for THIS SICK BEAT cannot be used to stop the young folk from using that phrase in their daily discourse. Also, since MOMAGER has already been registered by another party, it is very unlikely that Jenner would be able to stop the other party’s continued use and registration of the mark. On the plus side, the article at least did not refer to Jenner’s MOMAGER mark as a patent or copyright. Read the full article and pick your own nits here. Reposted from The Hollywood Reporter.