Many, indeed, could be the solution, and even now the query remains relevant. “What significance does a name hold?” Romeo famously inquired of Juliet’s character in William Shakespeare’s play.
The Influence of a Title.
Specifically, Rihanna, the Grammy-award winning singer, is at the center of a legal dispute between her and her father regarding their surname.
She has filed a lawsuit in the Central District Court of California against Ronald Fenty, her father and business partner of Perkins Joktan Moses, alleging that he used their surname, Fenty, to mislead consumers into thinking that she was associated with his worldwide known Fenty business. She is seeking an injunction to stop him from using her father’s surname, as well as damages for the violation of her right to false designation of origin, false advertising, and false publicity.
“BEAUTY FENTY” has become one of the most popular brands at the forefront of the cosmetics industry, as recognized by Time magazine’s “Inventions of the Year. 2017” issue. Rihanna, a renowned pop music star and successful businesswoman, owns trademark registrations for various products, including sneakers, fragrances, and makeup, under the names “FRAGRANCE FENTY,” “FENTY,” “RIHANNA BY FENTY,” and “BEAUTY FENTY.” Additionally, she owns trademark registrations for a series of marks containing her surname, such as “GLOW FENTY” and “RIHANNA BY BEAUTY FENTY,” through her company Trade Roraj LLC. Since at least August 2012, she has been using her surname professionally in connection with her business ventures.
The use of the name Fenty seems to cause confusion for leaving the room…LLC Entertainment Fenty, now under the ownership of Rihanna’s father, has become one of the biggest stars in the industry with campaigns such as “Puma x Fenty,” “Savage x Fenty,” and “Beauty Fenty.” The business brands itself as a company that offers entertainment services in the entertainment industry, including record production, live concerts, and motion pictures. It is registered as an LLC in California and is described as a production company that is also developing media platforms, TV shows, and cultivating new talent on its website. Fenty Mr. Opened “LLC Entertainment Fenty” in 2017.
Supporters of Mr. Fenty’s business might respond, “But what rights does having their own last name to have a party have?”
Is it possible to trademark a last name?
“There is no inherent meaning associated with someone’s last name in general, which means that there is no protection provided solely for the purpose of having a surname. The federal trademark law in the U.S., Specifically 4(e)§1052 U.S.C. 15, does not allow an applicant to register a surname on the Principal Register if it is primarily a surname. However, this ultimately depends on the specific circumstances.”
Conversely, if a surname possesses secondary significance, commonly referred to as “acquired distinctiveness,” it becomes qualified for safeguarding under federal trademark law. A brand is required to demonstrate that consumers link the surname with the brand itself, rather than perceiving it solely as an individual’s family name. A prime illustration of this is the fast-food chain, McDonald’s. McDonald’s Corporation holds the registered trademark “McDONALD’s” in relation to its restaurant services, since the term “McDonald’s” has gained a secondary meaning as a fast food establishment with the iconic golden arches. However, on the contrary.
In her argument, she claimed that when relevant consumers see the label “FENTY,” they immediately recognize the connection to Rihanna. According to her, the mark “FENTY” holds a secondary significance as it is closely linked to her professional image, reputation, and ventures. In her complaint, Rihanna also asserts that the “FENTY” mark bears the same argument.
The Office of Trademark and Patent in the United States is still reviewing the initial refusal to register the surname “FENTY” when viewed in connection with services provided by a resort hotel. It is important to note that the application for the trademark filed by Mr. Fenty is still under review, and the complaint does not raise a claim of trademark infringement for beauty products. However, it is worth mentioning that Rihanna owns the trademark “FENTY” in connection with fashion, makeup, and beauty products.
The entertainment industry is confused by the association of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Fenty Entertainment, as it misleads consumers into thinking that Rihanna’s overall influence in the entertainment industry is connected to her business. Allegedly, her father is being sued for using their last name in their business, falsely claiming a connection to Rihanna’s origin.
Allegations are notable. One notable allegation is that Rihanna’s company, Entertainment Fenty, is engaged in booking a series of American Latin concerts. The law agency also raises a complaint on behalf of Rihanna, alleging that Mr. Fenty, who represents the company, misrepresented authority by submitting contracts and offers.
The complaint further alleges that as recently as November 2018, the company affiliated with Fenty, the media accounts of Robyn Fenty’s social media accounts, falsely implied a connection with Robyn Fenty’s daughter, Rihanna, and announced the launch of Fenty Entertainment today. Ronald Fenty, the father of recording superstar Rihanna, is stated to be affiliated with the company. The complaint also refers to a press release from Fenty Entertainment in October 2018, which was released just four months ago.
“He does not, and has never had, authority to act on Rihanna’s behalf.”, While Mr. Fenty is Rihanna’s father, claims the complaint.
Rihanna, a superstar entertainer, is also a businesswoman in the entertainment industry. This means that her fragrances, fashion, and beauty services largely protect her trademarks “FENTY,” which relate to the entertainment business of her father.
The Central District of California’s U.S. District Court will make the decision.