Artist names and similar names

A trademark cannot be registered if it consists of or contains something that is mainly perceived as someone else’s well-known artist name or similar name.

This applies to situations where the use of the trademark would be a disadvantage to the bearer of the name and if it does not refer to someone who is long since deceased.

Artist names usually get well-known and with that get economic significance. They are protected by law, both through the Names Act and the Trademarks Act.  In addition to artist names, pseudonyms and signatures are also protected, as are such special names under which, for example, athletes have made themselves known. Note that this relates to made up artist names or similar names. Common names of artists or athletes, for example Stefan Holm or Carolina Gynning, are not protected. However, Foppa or Lady Gaga could be.

Well-known names

For the names mentioned above to be protected, they must be well-known in Sweden. The name should have some historic significance in the country or be otherwise so well-known that it would be unfitting for someone who is not related to the bearer of the name to have a trademark that consists of or contains the name.

The name should be well-known to the general public - it should be widely mentioned. Names that are very well-known are protected for all goods and services.

When a name is known by a certain part of the public the bearer is given protection against someone registering a trademark that consists of or contains the known name for such goods and services that the name is known for.

The assessment can be compared with the protection that a trademark is given. The higher the distinctiveness, the wider the protection.

Disadvantage for the bearer

Since there may be an economic significance in an artist‘s or a well-known person’s name, it is a disadvantage for the bearer if someone else uses their name in a trademark and benefits from the value that the name has been given.

The name of someone long since deceased

A trademark that consists of or contains the name of an artist can be registered if it clearly refers to someone long since deceased. This is applicable if 70 years or more has passed since the bearer of the name died, and the trademark clearly refers to that person.  

Consent

If a trademark contains something that is perceived as a well-known artist name, it can be registered if the bearer of the name gives their consent.