Dear Artiste: Why you should trademark your ”stage name”…
In most cases, a performing or recording artiste shall elect to use a stage name rather than his/her legal name (or government name as called in some quarters).A stage name, (also called a screen name), is a pseudonym used by performers and entertainers. An artiste will often take a stage name because his/her real name is considered unattractive, dull, difficult to pronounce or, in other cases, it simply projects an undesired image. Sometimes a performer adopts a name that is unusual or outlandish solely to attract attention or just to retain anonymity.
It is no news that there is more to music than recording and performing songs. There is the business aspect that is equally as important as recording and performing songs, if not more. One question artistes rarely ask themselves is, “ Do I own the rights to use this stage name when creating music and conducting business?”
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a unique symbol or a sign which differentiates the goods and services of one business from another one. A trademark provides protection to the owner of the mark by ensuring the exclusive right to use it to identify goods or services or to authorise another to use it in return for payment. The period of protection varies, but a trademark can be renewed indefinitely beyond the time limit on payment of additional fees. Trademark protection is enforced by the courts, which in most systems have the authority to block trademark infringement.
In a larger sense, trademarks promote initiative and enterprise worldwide by rewarding the owners of trademarks with recognition and financial profit. Trademark protection also hinders the efforts of unfair competitors, such as counterfeiters, to use similar distinctive signs to market inferior or different products or services. The system enables people with skill and enterprise to produce and market goods and services in the fairest possible conditions, thereby facilitating international trade.
The foregoing leads to a simple question: is your stage name protected as a trademark?
There are a couple of important reasons why a stage name should be protected by trademark, which are:
A) To avoid duplicate names: It would be quite terrible to create and produce music for years, get a hit song and start monetizing the content under a stage name, only to find out that there’s another artiste working under the same stage name in another part of the country (or world).
What would happen in that event is, one of the two artistes would either have to change the stage name entirely or alter it to give it a totally different feel from the other one (especially if the other artiste has had the name trademarked.) That would actually be bad news for the “losing party” who has put in a lot of effort and resources to gain recognition with the earlier name and would thus need to expend more effort to establish the new stage name. A stage name is an artiste’s brand name (and it is a viable stream of revenue). Changing such stage name will inevitably cost the artiste lots of money for rebranding.
B) To protect social profiles and domain names: Whichever artiste wins the “stage name dispute” is going to have the right to claim or shut down the other artiste’s web address and social media URLs, handles, etc. This act, if done shall be disheartening to the “losing party” who probably has worked tirelessly building an online presence to have someone else “kill” the music career momentum and vibe just because they filed the paperwork first.
Okay, So how does an artiste trademark his/her stage name?
You can register your trademark – a name, logo, slogan, domain name, shape, colour or sound with the Trademark Registry, in the Commercial Law department of the Ministry of Trade and Investment in Nigeria. This can legally protect your trademark from use by a competitor. The trademark must be distinctive for the goods and services that you provide, not be deceptive, illegal or immoral and not be similar to existing trademarks.
REQUIREMENTS FOR FILING NIGERIAN TRADE MARK APPLICATIONS
– Applicant’s details
– The trademark Information
– Goods: The full range of goods covered or proposed to be covered by the trade mark. Nigeria presently follows the International Classification of Goods
– Power of Attorney/Authorization of Agent
About the writer
Ife’ Idowu is an intuitive young lawyer with specific interests in corporate and entertainment law.
You can check out his website here