Robbie Williams has registered the right to use his name on anything from videos and CDs to crayons and paper napkins. Robbie joins stars such as Madonna and events such as the Glastonbury Festival who have filed their names to give them protection and added ammunition to avoid costly legal battles. Trademarks are designed to allow people to distinguish between the goods and services of traders. But many well-known figures have used the system over the years provided their name is considered “distinctive” enough. The Robbie Williams mark is covered for a wide range of music and video recordings as well as clothing merchandise. The star is also protected for “printed matter”, which includes address books, calendars, posters, playing cards and diaries.
COMMENT : EC Directive 89/104 provides that a trade mark may consist of any sign capable of being graphically represented particularly words including personal names designs, letters, numerals, shapes of goods or their packaging provided that such signs are capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings. This means trade marks can include letter/numeral combinations, logo marks and business marks, designs, certain shapes, colours, liveries or shop facades. Artists are increasingly using trade marks as part of a ‘package’ of Intellectual property rights to protect their image. In the UK, the ‘image right’ based on trade mark law, privacy law, and confidentiality and copyright, is rapidly being established.