Sarah PalinTM Having Trouble With Registration

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Patent PendingI suppose it should not be surprising that Sarah Palin has filed an application to register her name as a trademark. But having learned that, it is not at all surprising that the application was rejected because she forgot to sign it.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Palin filed an application last November seeking to register "Sarah Palin" as a trademark for use in particular types of commerce. (You can have a trademark without registering, but registering provides certain legal benefits.) Specifically, she claimed to be using the mark in connection with "Information about political elections; Providing a website featuring information about political issues," and "Educational and entertainment services; namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values." As specimens of the current use of the mark in connection with "providing a website," she attached webpage printouts of an article about her joining FOX News and of her Facebook page.

On November 29, the application was rejected for two reasons.  First, the examiner pointed out, the fact that your name appears in a news article or on your Facebook page is not evidence that you are "providing a website" featuring political information. Second, Palin did not sign the application.

The examiner pointed out that if a mark is the name of a particular living individual, it can't be registered unless that individual has signed or there is some other record of consent. (The examiner cited cases involving "Little Debbie," who is in fact a real person, and "Prince Charles," who arguably is too.) Because Palin hadn't signed, the application could not be granted.

It seems like signing your name is not something you would forget when your name is what you're trying to trademark, but she's a busy woman. [Note: a Palin supporter has asked me to point out that this form would have been prepared by an attorney, not by Palin herself, and indeed it was. That's a fair point, but it also seems fair to say that somebody who wants to be president, as she apparently does, should be willing to take responsibility for what her agents are doing.]

The application also says that the mark's "first use in commerce" was on January 1, 1996. That's the year she was elected to be mayor of Wasilla, and it seems a little odd to call the start of a political career (especially as a small-town mayor) a "first use in commerce," but this is Sarah Palin we're talking about.

This is actually the second Palin registration effort – the first one, in September of last year, was filed by Bristol. She, too, says she provides "motivational speaking services," but hers are "in the field of life choices." (More specifically, choices that might lead to becoming an unwed teenage mother right when your mom is running for office.)

Bristol didn't sign, either.