I’m often asked, can I or should I “trademark your own name?”

The answer is yes and no. You can trademark your own name. But only if specific requirements are met first. Let’s start with the definition of a trademark. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) explains trademarking your own name.

A trademark is an intellectual property law term for any word, slogan, or graphical logo that identifies the source or origin of goods or services. For example, when you hear the name “STARBUCKS” you immediately think of coffee. That is, the trademark STARBUCKS identifies the source of (the company that provides) coffee.

Similarly, when you hear “GOODS HANDS” you immediately think of Allstate, the insurance company. This is an example of a service mark. A service mark is a type of trademark. That is, a trademark is the intellectual property law term that generally applies to the provision of goods, whereas a service mark is the intellectual property law term that refers to the provision of services. In the “GOOD HANDS” example, the services are insurance (car, home, life, etc.). Insurance is not a product, but rather a service – an agreement to provide money to cover various costs associated with a particular incident, such as a car accident.

So back to the original question, whether you can or should trademark your own name.

You certainly can trademark your own name IF you are providing goods or services under that name. That is, you cannot simply file a trademark application for your name as it applies to you as a person.

But if you are providing services under your name, for example if you are an accountant providing accounting services under your own name, a builder, or the like, then you can certainly trademark you name – for those particular services.

Or if you are selling a product marked with your name, such as t-shirts or soccer balls with your name identifying those products, then you can apply for a trademark for your name – for those particular products.

Be sure to check with a trademark attorney before starting to use any trademark. You don’t want to infringe on someone else’s trademark – even if it is your own name!

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