Pop star Rihanna’s Community Trade Mark application for her first name “Robyn” has been opposed by DC Comics, an American comic book publisher and producer of material featuring Batman. As many would know, Batman’s sidekick in the comic series is Robin. A look on the OHIM database reveals that the opposition is based on DC Comic’s various earlier national European trade mark registrations, DC Comic’s earlier unregistered rights as well as its reputation. The character of Robin is said to have first made its appearance in 1940 and the blogs are alive with comments about the substantial reputation that DC Comics has acquired since then. Rihanna herself also has quite the reputation, with the recent
Fenty v Arcadia decision noting “Rihanna is one of the most popular recording artists in the world”. It will be interesting to know the outcome of this opposition. In recent years, it seems that celebrities have become a lot more savvy and aware of their own brand value, with many seeking to either register song lyrics or even their own name, as Rihanna is attempting to do here. This is not surprising, in our view, given the fact that celebrities are more likely to have spin offs and merchandising arrangements. Of course historically , at least in the UK, the recourse would have been through unregistered rights and the law of Passing Off - not traditionally suited to mere fame or spin off trade but through which recently celebrities have also been finding support as Rihanna herself was able to do.
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