Can Influencers Trademark Their Brand?

Influencers are not just content creators, they are also business creators. Many of them have launched their own brands in various industries, such as beauty, fashion, fitness and lifestyle. But some influencers may also want to trademark their names/brands for their services as influencers, such as their vlogs, YouTube channels, TikTok pages or podcasts. But how can they do that and why should they?

lettered tiles spelling out "INFLUENCER"

Influencers are not just content creators, they are also business creators. Many of them have launched their own brands in various industries, such as beauty, fashion, fitness and lifestyle. But some influencers may also want to trademark their names/brands for their services as influencers, such as their vlogs, YouTube channels, TikTok pages or podcasts. But how can they do that and why should they?

A trademark is a sign that identifies the goods or services of a particular source and distinguishes them from those of others. A trademark can be a word, logo, slogan, design, color, sound or any combination of these elements. Trademarks help consumers recognize and trust the quality and origin of the products or services they buy.

But not every name or brand can be trademarked. There are some requirements and conditions that must be met in order to register a trademark successfully. One of the most important ones is that the trademark must have a commercial use. This means that the trademark must be used or intended to be used in connection with the sale or promotion of goods or services in the market.

For influencers, this means that they must use their name or brand on their services as influencers, or on their website, social media accounts, advertisements or any other materials that relate to their business activities. They must also show that their name or brand is distinctive and not descriptive or generic of the services they offer.

For example, Lele Pons, who has 37.3 million followers on Instagram, had a trademark application under class 41 (entertainment services) pending in the USPTO. She uses her name LELE PONS on her YouTube channel, where she posts comedy videos and music videos. The name is distinctive because it is not a common word or name for entertainment services.

However, she faced difficulties, and ultimately failed to register her name due to the previously registered trademark LELE for the same services. The trademark office found that there was a likelihood of confusion between her trademark and LELE because they are similar and cover related goods or services.

Another example is Michelle Phan, who founded her beauty subscription service IPSY in 2011. She registered her trademark IPSY for cosmetics and related products and services in 2012. She uses this trademark on her products, website, social media accounts and advertisements. The trademark is distinctive because it is a coined word that has no meaning in relation to cosmetics.

However, she was not able to register her trademark EM for cosmetics and related products in 2013. She faced opposition from L’Oreal, a global cosmetics company that had already registered its trademark EM for cosmetics and related products in 2009. The trademark office found that there was a likelihood of confusion between the two trademarks because they were identical and covered identical goods.

So what are some of the common services that influencers would likely file in when registering their trademarks? A couple of the common classes of services that are used for trademark registration purposes by influencers include:

  • Class 35 (which includes services such as advertising, marketing, business management, etc.)

  • Class 41 (which has various education and entertainment services, including vlogs, online video services, podcasts, and blogs—among others).

Therefore, influencers who want to trademark their names/brands for their services as influencers should identify the relevant classes of services that they offer or intend to offer in the market, and make sure that their trademarks are distinctive and not confusingly similar to existing trademarks in those classes.

In conclusion, influencers can trademark their names/brands for their services as influencers if they meet certain requirements and conditions. Trademarking their names/brands can help them protect their brand identity and reputation from competitors and copycats. However, they should also be aware of the potential challenges and costs involved in registering and maintaining their trademarks.

If you have questions about filing or protecting your own brand, or other trademark related questions, contact us for more information.