Question Hi Cathy
I have a friend who has written a biography about a longtime friend of his. He has been threatened not to use this persons name because it has been trademarked. Is this possible and should my friend worry.
Answer Hi, Tim!
Well, a lot depends on where you're talking about the trademark existing as to what the law is. You're in Canada. I'm in the United States. The laws are totally different on what they protect and how the protection is enforced. In America, a trademark of a name is the equivalent of a "brand." For example, Kleenix Tissues or Coca-Cola. The name is associated with a product and they're often words that don't exist in the common language. Can "Kleenix" trademark the word "tissue?" No, because it's a common word that doesn't specify THAT particular product to the exclusion of others. A PERSON'S name can be trademarked as it applies to products. "Harry Potter" as a name can't be trademarked. Too many other people in the world have it. But "Harry Potter" with a lightning bolt as the "P" and in a certain font CAN be trademarked. It's not the name that's the issue, but the tie to the franchised reality.
If your friend's friend actually has a trademark on his/her name, it might be because it's associated with a product. If so, it could well be a prolem. You'll need to speak with a solicitor about the consequences of violating that trademark.
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