Journal of Intellectual Property Law


To be a superstar in America means to live with the pressure of maintaining a certain reputation and level of popularity during one’s professional career. Fame in America often translates to fame internationally, and well-known individuals are typically incentivized to use the constantly evolving internet and media at their disposal to increase global exposure with respect to their brands. American celebrities consequently generate social and monetary capital, and while they willingly increase fan access into their personal lives, opportunistic individuals in foreign territories have on occasion successfully invaded the trademarks of these celebrities. This issue traces back to the turn of the century, when television broadcasts were the primary form of public viewership, and individuals whose brands eclipsed global celebrity in the 1990’s and early 2000’s were the center of attention. Retrospectively thinking, many squatters who built successful businesses had filed bad faith trademark registrations and created unimaginative logo imitations by appropriating the commercial value of these individuals’ identities without consent. Generally, the rights afforded to a foreign national should be identical to those afforded to a home national. Still, enforcement of the rights of a trademark owner depend on questions surrounding the famous mark doctrine and trademark local popularity. As American nationals have urged for the cancellation of bad faith trademark registrations abroad, the definition of fame, the manner in which fame might be acquired, and the means by which fame must be protected each have taken on new meaning.