Sarah Palin Circle-R wants a trademark on her name

Some details on Sarah Palin's crazed attempt to register a trademark in her name; apart from making stupid errors in her application, there's the curious business that she considers "running for election" to be the same as using her name in commerce. Also, turns out Bristol Palin also wants a trademark on her name, for "motivational speaking services in the field of life choices."
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.

Sarah PalinTM Having Trouble With Registration

(Image: Sarah Palin, Queen of Pork, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from llyn_hunter's photostream)


  1. The only person I can think of, off the top of my head, who has trademarked his/her name is Harlan Ellison. Surely there are others.

  2. Sarah should be holding an AR-15 or maybe a lever-action Winchester. The AK is just wrong, makes the piece look nonsensical.

  3. Considering that both Sarah Palin and Bristol Palin neglected to sign the applications, I am wondering if this is a hoax. Has she said anything on the matter. The blog post doesn’t contain any direct quotes. I’ve not done an extensive search on the matter.

    Not to say it isn’t humorous, but there’s already plenty of Palin funny to go around.

    1. I’m not fond of either of them, but I was wondering the same thing.

      It’s a funny hoax but forging the names would make it illegal, so I can see why some one sending that form in “on their behalf” would have to leave it unsigned.

      I think Palin’s political philosophies are dangerous and faulty, but I think she can probably manage to sign her name on things.

  4. “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.”

    1. “it seems a little odd to call the start of a political career (especially as a small-town mayor) a ‘first use in commerce,'”

      Maybe she’s just being honest about the fact that she’s been selling herself since the very beginning.

  5. Now we have to call her the Half Term™ Alaska Governor®.

    But on the other hand, ridiculing her is now slightly easier for Mac users than everybody else.

  6. It’s all right, you fell off the horse. Just get back on and ride the February Media Moratorium on She Who Must Not Be Named all the way to the end. Please.

    Pretty please?

  7. The “Alaska über alles” is quite nonsensical, unless she’s for secession from the united states – or someone’s appropriating foreign cultural icons for fetish reasons.

    1. Todd Palin was a member of the Alaska Independence Party, and IIRC Sarah Palin had something to do with it too.

    2. Actually, Todd Palin was a member of a secessionist-favoring party in Alaska. So, you know…

      Plus, there’s the Dead Kennedys song, which is what I thought of when I saw the pic.

    3. When she was McCain’s running mate, there were a number of video interviews of Alaskans asking what their opinion was of her possibly becoming vice-president of the US. Many of them had said that “it would be good for Alaska and the United States,” as though these were two unrelated entities. The impression I got from these comments was that these Alaskans thought of themselves as a separate nation to begin with.

      I think the “Alaska über alles” banner is a cheap shot on the part of the illustrator. Palin has provided enough material on her own without having to fabricate unnecessary parallels.

      1. “it would be good for Alaska and the United States,”

        so, when Obama said “Good for California, and good for the US” or “Good for the gulf coast, and good for the US”. Or when Bush said “Good for Louisiana and good for America” they all thought these were different countries?

        This is one of the most common phrase forms used by speech writers. I thought it was obvious that it is designed to simultaneously appeal to local and larger groups. But maybe it isn’t that obvious to everybody.

        I don’t like Palin (nor Obama, nor Bush 1 or 2), but if folks want to be taken seriously, they should bring up serious topics, not common speech cliches that are mere dressing on the drivel that pours from the lying mouths of these professional shysters.

        1. bobthe:

          Seriously, I love boingboing — for its links to “wonderful things.” However, for the most part, its treatment of politics and social issues is pure Black and White/good vs. evil demagoguery. With ample, gloating citations to the idiocies of the enemy, and blithe indifference and selective blindness to the idiocies of friends. Frankly, I like to call my friends on their bullshit. I think it shows a kind of respect for them, as if you’re actually taking seriously what they say or do…

          1. Indeed there are wonderful things to be found on this website, but the range of political opinion does run the full gamut, as Dorothy Parker once said, from A to B.

            What I like to do when reading these threads is to count the number of “I can’t stand Palin, but….”‘s, as posters try to distance themselves slightly from the robotic piling-on while still trying to assure the Cool Kids that they want to sit at their lunch table.

          2. Indeed there are wonderful things to be found on this website, but the range of political opinion does run the full gamut, as Dorothy Parker once said, from A to B.

            Odd. The editors/moderators and commenters here range from libertarian to communist. It seems that you have a selective content filter. A shoulder-mounted filter in the shape of a chip.

    4. It’s also a reference to the Dead Kennedy’s song about Jerry Brown’s term as California governor during the 1970s called ‘California über alles’:

      “I am Governor Jerry Brown / My aura smiles / And never frowns / Soon I will be president… / Carter Power will soon go away / I will be Fuhrer one day / I will command all of you / Your kids will meditate in school / Your kids will meditate in school! / [Chorus:] California, über alles / California, über alles / über alles / California / über alles, California” etc.

      I’m sure you see the similarities between their parody of one once-over ambitious and dictatorial US governor and Palin :)

  8. Couldn’t Michael Pallin claim prior art? Remember when her name first came up, when McCain picked her, didn’t we all think they they meant Michael Pallin, and we were all confused by it?

  9. “#1 • 9:16 AM, Feb 6 • Reply

    The only person I can think of, off the top of my head, who has trademarked his/her name is Harlan Ellison. Surely there are others.”

    Futurist Watts Wacker trademarked his name–yes, it is his real given name. He said that one reason was so he could sue mass marketers for selling his name on mailing lists–don’t know if he was kidding or not when he said it.

    You do have to use your name in commerce to trademark it, and clearly Sarah Palin is all about the commerce. (Use of the mark as a requirement preventing a certain region from being able to trademark “Xenu” since that religion can’t even admit its secret tenets like those mentioning Xenu, let alone use them in commerce…)

    Question is, should such a mark be granted to Palin? Lots of businesses are based on people’s names, but I don’t see why people should be able to trademark a common name any more than they should be able to trademark a generic product name. Watts Wacker is unique. Sarah Palin? Not so much. I remember when companies made up names with funny spellings like “Kamera Korner” and such to be sure that the name wasn’t generic and was, thus, trademarkable. Now companies are trademarking “Windows” and other generic marks, which I think is a failure on the part of the UPTO. If Sarah Palin wants to trademark her name I think she should have to translate it into leet or something to make it distinctive…

    1. Surely marketing writing ink under the name of Sarah Palin would be a mis-representation of the product in question. Associating the word “writing” with Sarah Palin? You see my issue here?

  10. This from today’s Christian Science Monitor referring to Bristol Palin:

    “Last month, Washington University in St. Louis withdrew an invitation for her to speak on a panel for “Student Sexual Responsibility Week.”

    “Because of the growing controversy among undergraduates over the decision to pay for her talk with student-generated funds” the committee and Palin decided against the appearance, the university said in a statement.”

  11. She does realize that trademarking her name would not prevent people from saying negative things about her, right? No, of course she doesn’t.

  12. I’m echoing another poster b/c I think this is important: to me, the fact that she didn’t sign it strongly indicates it’s a hoax. Any professional at Palin’s level (and as much as you may dislike her, she is someone with an office, staff, and a lot of responsibility, just like any middle manager) has “people” who will make sure any document that needs a signature gets a signature.

    Signatures are required to verify that a particular document isn’t fradulent. If this preposterous document happens to lack that verifying signature, wwwweeeellll….

  13. This is terrible, M’kay. Because only public figures, motivational speakers and people with reality shows etc are supposed to trademark their names. Wait, these guy’s have a reality show, get paid to make motivational speeches and their PAC made $3.7 million last year… Well if they made $4 million, that’d be a different story.

    Trademarking names is actually very common among actors etc, and likely this is a direct result of their reality show.

    “The key phrase excluding persons from coverage is: “who have not profited from their reputation in commerce.” -which to even knee jerk polarists should be understandable.

    What bugs me here is that not once do I see Palin’s political views ever discussed. I’m not a fan of hers, but she is thought to likely be a serious contender for office. If her politics are a valid issue, if her being president or vice president scares you, talk about her views and voting record.

    This disgusting practice where everybody plays playground games about who has media cooties, while our government rapidly steals our rights and plots to turn off the internet is shameful and beneath the supposed intelligence of the visitors to this site.

    What about the prisoners the US extraordinary rneditioned that were just found in Eqypt? What about our new war in Yemen? What about our corporatized war in Iraq (more US soldiers than ever, just XE guys, vs army) How about criticizing somebody on why they suck politically for once?

  14. I’m not a copyright expert, but if Sarah Palin® can get the kinks worked out in her application to trademark Sarah Palin®, I have no problem with it. To my knowledge, trademark is not nearly so hinky a thing as copyright–certainly critics of Sarah Palin® will have no trouble speaking out about Sarah Palin® and using the name “Sarah Palin®” as often as they like (and profiting from it, to boot). Again, internet lawyers correct me if I’m wrong, but I think all this means is that I can’t use the term “Sarah Palin®” to suggest that Sarah Palin® herself endorses, writes, or is involved in my political activities. That seems fair.

    Frankly, as a matter of courtesy, I’ve taken a solemn oath to always use the registration mark when I write “Palin®” or “Sarah Palin®,” even though there’s nothing legally obligating me to do so and even though her application hasn’t gone through yet. Sarah Palin® has never once failed to live down to my expectations of her (i.e., that you shouldn’t call her a grifter because grifters are smart and have limits imposed by their consciences) and so I feel she (Sarah Palin®) has earned that much from me.

    Now, on another note, what’s all this about ignoring Sarah Palin®? That won’t work–she’s reached attention-whore critical mass and the spotlight around her is self-sustaining. You beat Sarah Palin® not by ignoring Sarah Palin®, but by pointing out that Sarah Palin® is who Sarah Palin® is.

    Sarah Palin®.

  15. February being Official-Ignore-She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named Month, I am restrained from submitting a comment on this Half-Term Money-Grubbing-Media-Whore.

  16. the curious business that she considers “running for election” to be the same as using her name in commerce.

    This is the keenest observation I’ve heard from the Palin gang.  Her electoral activities are just a way to score free publicity for Sarah the brand.

  17. It’s absolutely not a hoax. Her longtime lawyer is responsible. It’s par for the course for Team Palin.

    Two more examples:

    She agreed to speak at a charity event (The Sharon K. Pacheco Foundation) on May 2nd but as it turns out:

    “The Sharon K. Pacheco Foundation is not registered with the Colorado Secretary of State to solicit charitable funds in Colorado.”

    Furthermore, the event conflicts with the May 2 NBC/Politico Republican Presidential Candidates debate scheduled at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Either another mistake or she was scared to debate her fellow Republicans.

    That said, the nomination is hers if she wants it.

  18. #1 point on Bristol Palin’s “life choices” motivational speechifyin’ should be: “We don’t get to choose our parents.”

  19. Is there actually any evidence whatsoever that it was actually Sarah Palin — or anyone in any way connected with Sarah Palin — filing this application? Because it looks from the story that it was rejected for primarily that reason.

  20. As my wife said this morning when we saw the promo for the new History Channel show hosted by Larry the Cable Guy, “Why do we celebrate stupid?”

  21. Pretty funny that someone who wants o be Pres.,and was a Guv. cant fill out a form. But there’s nothing crazed about trademarking a name so that others can;t profit from one’s celebrity. It’s axiomatic in biz that if you don’t actively protect yr name you’re considered to have given up rights.
    It may seem ironic ,compared o our stated democratic ideals as a nation,but it’s surely disingenuous to act surprised that politics is a business.
    As for celebrating stupid,the reactions to Palin,and traditionally working class teaparty types as stupid , from educated elites is actually part of a successful strategy to re-enforce class prejudice in both directions, and distract from the real action. Divide and conquer works like a charm,educated folks on the left have a very pronounced tendency to think only dumb working class conservatives are manipulated by demagoguery,and never see themselves taking the bait.

  22. “irksome in reply to semiotix

    I need clarification; is it Sarah Palin® or Sarah Palinâ„¢?”

    Hmm…trademarks are for physical products. As a politician who claims her commerce started with her political career she needs to apply for a *service* mark, SM.

    1. read the USPTO Trademark FAQ:

      Trademarks are not simply for “physical products.”

      A REGISTERED® Trademark is the same thing as a TRADEMARK™, it has just been REGISTERED with the Federal Government and gives you more power in court or something. It is sort of like getting a formal © Copyright that establishes that yes you are the owner of that work and you do indeed own the ©Copyright.

      Anyone can slap a â„¢ on Anythingâ„¢
      You may NOT use the ® symbol UNLESS you have had your paperwork approved.
      so all of you using PALIN® are big trouble.

      1. Ah, but parody counts as “fair use”. You don’t even need to be funny…look at the last decade or so of SNL and The Simpsons.

        I’m keeping this as my primary posting name now…if not just have the Wasilla Gorilla see the registration fail due to “prior use”.

    2. “As a politician who claims her commerce started with her political career she needs to apply for a *service* mark, SM.”

      Well….. I think she has a Business Degree. So would that mean we should address her as: Sarah Palin BDSM?

  23. If it hadn’t been so sloppy I would have assumed she wanted the trademark so that she could hit critics with SLAPP lawsuits for making fun of her.

    Then again, that would not end well for her, so perhaps it fits.

  24. I have the exact same name as a young somewhat famous musician (He’s already been in a movie). If He trademarks his name what will that mean for me? If I then write a great song will I have to release it under a different name to avoid infringing on his trademarked name?

  25. Maybe it took all of her mental capacity to fill in the form; signatures can be quite complicated for someone of her education and experience.
    We have freedom of speech, but here are a few examples of things you cannot say without paying a “royalty”. (That’s an ironic term right there.
    “You’re Fired” Donald Trump owns this.
    “Olympic” the International Olympics Commitee has legal ownership
    “Rosie” Rosie O’Donnel fiercely defends her ownership. She sued a 11 year old girl named Rosita Marie Gonzales from being called Rosie.
    “That’s hot” Owned by Paris Hilton. Now when service high temperature food you server must use different phrasing.
    Portland, Oregon candidate for mayor, Sam Adams was issued a warning by Sam Adams Brewery to immediately cease and desist in using his own name when running for office.
    The creators of “Law and Order are presently getting approval to prohibit anyone from using the copyrighted phrase “Call 911!”
    We do not have the freedom of speech as we were taught. It belongs to the lawyers.

  26. As owner of the trademark for “Sarah Palin”, any attempt to tarnish the reputation of this fine mark will be opposed by all legal means, especially any depiction of this trademark’s reputation as a yammering hillbilly half-wit.

  27. John Cleese on Palin:

    Best line at 0:56
    “I used to think Michael Palin was the funniest Palin on earth”

  28. 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.

    “Stupid” is the new “busy”

  29. >>there’s the curious business that she considers “running for election” to be the same as using her name in commerce.

    And you’re saying… it isn’t…?

  30. As much as I hate Palin…

    a) She has a lawyer. She probably didn’t fill out the form and forget to sign it, her lawyer (or their assistant) did and failed to get her signature. Lawyer’s mistake.

    b) There’s nothing wrong with trademarking something. You read it here on Boing Boingâ„¢ you know.

    1. As for #2- that depends entirely on your motives.

      If you’re doing it because you’re a politician and want to be able to threaten baseless lawsuits against anyone who besmirches your reputation (and therefore your trademark), that is wrong (and the threats are illegal).

      If you’re doing it so people can’t sell merchandise with your name on it that is conceivably okay.

      The problem is, you don’t need a trademark for the latter, so there is very likely no reason to want a trademark other than the former, IE aspiring to use threats to abridge others’ free speech.

  31. Well, either she’s added the Sovereign Citizen conspiracy to the list of nutjob causes she believes in, or she has no clue what a copyright actually is and does (and more importantly doesn’t do). Or, having seen her in action, both.

  32. considering the sorry state of politics in the usa [and elsewhere] at this time i would argue that “used in commerce” is entirely appropriate… ;)

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