These days, everybody thinks their pet is the cutest in the world and are shamelessly showing them off, via social media. But some people are actually making an income out of their ‘influencer pets’. Pet Instagram accounts are gaining in popularity and now famous animals are coming out with their own merchandise. The latest celebrity pet to join this trend is a cat named Benjamin Button, Taylor Swift’s newest adoptee.
Taylor trade marks
In mid-June 2019, Taylor Swift filed a trade mark application for the words ‘Meredith, Olivia & Benjamin Swift’, the names of her three cats. She made the trade mark application in relation to a wide range of goods and services, to allow the star to create all kinds of merchandise starring her furry friends. Swift had previously trade marked ‘Meredith & Olivia Swift’ but then fell in love with a third kitten on the set of her “ME!” music video and went back to the trade mark register to include her newest feline friend.
Trade marking her cat’s names allows Swift to enjoy a monopoly over them as a brand name and release all kinds of merchandise. Cat merchandise has turned out to be a lucrative business decision for Swift, who had already released a range of merchandise under ‘Meredith & Olivia Swift’, such as jewellery and stationery. The star is not alone either, owners of celebrity pets around the world are trade marking their fur baby names in a bid to make a business out of them.
In January 2018, the owner of the infamous Grumpy Cat won a legal battle against a coffee roaster, who tried to use the unimpressed face of everybody’s favourite meme, to sell coffee beans. Fortunately, Grumpy Cat’s owner had already trade marked the name and, therefore, had exclusive rights with respect to certain references to the grumpy feline. So, when Grenade Beverage infringed trade mark rights, by using the Grumpy Cat name, Grumpy Cat Limited were able to sue for damages.
Grenade Beverage originally approached Grumpy Cat Limited for a licence to sell a ‘Grumpy Cat Grumppucino’ coffee – whatever that is. However, they went outside the terms of their licensing agreement, when they tried selling other products, such as Grumpy Cat Roasted Coffee beans. Grumpy Cat Limited took them to court for trade mark infringement and won $700,000 in damages, showing the world just how profitable pets can be.
Jiffpom, the popular Pomeranian
It’s not just cats in on the action either. The famous Pomeranian, Jiffpom, is also trade marked. This small fluff ball has over 30 million followers across several social media channels and is now trade marked and owned by a company identified as Cutelife Inc. – an appropriate name for this little guy’s money making business.
Commercialising trade marks (and pets)
While trade marking pet names is a relatively new trend, which may seem ludicrous to some, its proving to be incredibly lucrative for others. This is because trade marking gives an owner the right to exclusively use and control the names of their fur babies. The savvy owner can then create merchandise of their best friends and sell it for some serious cash. This includes everything from plush toys and coffee mugs, to t-shirts and calendars. Or you could even sell a licence and have somebody else make the merchandise, while still earning a profit.
Trade marking also allows pet owners to sue for trade mark infringement, in instances such as the Grumpy Cat case. However, be aware that trade marking applies on a country-by-country basis. So, regardless of where your pet is based, you will need to trade mark in each country that you wish to sell pet merchandise into. This will provide you with trade mark rights, in these countries, so you are well positioned to pursue others, who may be trying to capitalise on the popularity of your pet.
It’s clear we’ve only just seen the beginning of this new trend in trade marking, but the possibilities are endless. If you have an influencer pet you may want to consider jumping on the bandwagon and trade marking its name, as they could one day be as popular as Doug the Pug (also trade marked), or Marnie the Dog (again, trade marked). In the meantime, hopefully Swift doesn’t keep us waiting too long to find out what wild merchandise Benjamin Button Swift’s furry face will feature o
If you would like to discuss your trade marking requirements, then you can book a free 20-minute phone consultation here.
You can also download our free eBook on trade marks here.