Readers can still take my name in vain, call me out and say whatever they want about Bonzer Wolf™ intellectual property. In spite of the ObamaNation, the Constitution is the law of the land in the United States of America and still applies to Bonzer Wolf™.
You can use a trademark for editorial or informational purposes without infringing. Such uses do not require permission because they inform, educate, or express opinions protected under the First Amendment. The laws protecting personalities' names only go so far. But you will likely run into problems if you sell goods or services using the trademark personality's name, or if you imply the endorsement of the celebrity for any goods or services.
When a person's name functions as a trademark, it's in relation to a product or service -- in this case the Bonzer Wolf™ live journal or "blog". You can only use the Bonzer Wolf™ trademark to stop others from competing against you unfairly, not to prevent the listing of your name on court documents, in newspapers or in any type of editorial use.
While celebrity or public personality names are generally not eligible for trademark registration, these individuals do typically have a right of publicity. The right of publicity provides such persons with the ability to control and profit from commercial use of their name. Though similar to a trademark, the right of publicity is not considered sufficient to satisfy the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) trademark element.
However, UDRP panels have created a way for public personalities to navigate around this problem. In these domain cases, panels note that the UDRP accepts claims based on common-law trademark rights. As such, public personalities may establish the existence of a common-law trademark right based on their recognized accomplishments or public persona. Therefore, people who are well known and able to show a current and direct correlation of their name with a brand or service, do not have a problem trade marking their names.
Even if a person can prove a common-law trademark right in the name, the right does not necessarily prevail at all costs. The second and third UDRP factors require celebrities to show that the domain owner lacked a legitimate use for the domain name and that the registration is in bad faith. A Panel may determine that the domain owner has a legitimate interest in the domain if they share the same personal name as the trademark name or uses the domain for a fan/gripe website.
However, regardless of a domain owner’s legitimate interest, a determination that the domain name was registered in bad faith will sway any decision in favor of the trade mark holder. Source confusion and intent to profit are the bad faith factors most commonly cited in domain name proceedings. With source confusion, panels worry that use of the trademark personal name will confuse internet users into thinking that a website is run, owned, endorsed or sponsored by the celebrity. This concern is more prominent when the name consists solely of a personal name and is not coupled with other terms such as “fans.”
In addition to confusion, any commercial use of a personality domain name will also be weighed against the domain owner. Commercial considerations include offering the domain name for sale or loading the website with sponsored advertisements. In fact, panels have generally held that even if the website is being used as a fan/gripe site, any evidence of commercial gain, i.e. sponsored links, will lead to a finding of bad faith.
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