If you are a performer, you may have chosen a stage name. For artists and performers, a stage name is an integral part of your brand and identity. Therefore, misuse of your stage name could affect your reputation within the industry. This article will discuss the key issues to consider when determining whether you should register your stage name as a trade mark.

What Are the Benefits of Registering a Stage Name?

There are many reasons why you may decide to use a stage name. It may be because your personal name is:

  • too common or popular;
  • already being used by someone famous; or
  • long and hard to pronounce.

Regardless, most of your work as a performer will go towards building your name, identity, and reputation so that your audience will remember you.

Registering your stage name as a trade mark will give you the exclusive right to use your stage name. It also provides you with the power to stop others from using the same or similar name.

Take Kylie Minogue’s famous trade mark battle with Kylie Jenner as an example. Kylie Minogue successfully opposed Kylie Jenner’s application to register the name ‘KYLIE’. The opposition was made on the basis that it would:

  • infringe on Minogue’s existing trade marks, including the name ‘Kylie Minogue’;
  • damage Minogue’s reputation as a performer; and
  • cause confusion in the industry.

If you do not register your stage name as a trade mark, someone else could rightly use the same or similar name to you. This could damage your reputation and cause confusion among your followers. Similarly, if someone else registers their similar stage name as a trade mark before you do, they could require you to use a different name.

Is My Stage Name Distinctive and Unique?

You should ensure that your stage name is unique and distinguishes you from other performers. Not only will this increase your chances of obtaining trade mark protection, but it will also help in establishing a memorable brand and identity among your followers. If your name is John Smith, unfortunately, your name will unlikely qualify for a trade mark.

When choosing a stage name, try and pick something that is:

  • unique;
  • simple; and
  • memorable.

This could be a simplified version of your name or a nickname that you have. Some of the most famous stage names that have trade mark protection include:

  • Beyoncè (real name Beyoncè Giselle Knowles);
  • Jay-Z (real name Shawn Corey Carter);
  • Rihanna (real name Robyn Rihanna Fenty);
  • Lorde (real name Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor); and
  • Nicki Minaj (real name Onika Tanya Maraj).

Is My Stage Name Similar to an Existing Trade Mark?

It is important to ensure that another performer is not already using your stage name. This will guarantee that your trade mark application will not be rejected as it conflicts with an existing trade mark.

For example, you want to register a trade mark for your stage name ‘Skyla’ under class 41 (e.g. musical performances). However, there is an existing trade mark for ‘Sky’ under the same class. Therefore, it could be quite difficult to register your trade mark. This is because the names are similar and will likely cause confusion in the industry.

We recommend broadly searching the internet to see whether your proposed stage name is already being used by another artist. Then, you should search IP Australia’s Trade Mark Database to ensure that your stage name is not infringing on an existing trade mark.

Does My Stage Name Contain a Prohibited Sign or Word?

For your stage name to be registrable as a trade mark, it must not contain scandalous words or signs. This includes names with offensive or abusive elements that are:

  • personal;
  • religious;
  • racist; or
  • offensive to others.

Key Takeaways

Your stage name represents your identity and reputation as a performer. Therefore, whether you have already chosen a stage name or are still deciding, you should ensure that you are able to protect it legally. To increase the chances of obtaining trade mark protection for your stage name, you should ensure that it is:

  • unique;
  • distinctive;
  • not similar to an existing stage name; and
  • does not contain a prohibited sign or word.

If you have any questions, contact LegalVision’s trade mark lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Graci Chen
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