Here’s something I learned today—Barbadian megastar Rihanna’s first name is actually Robyn.
As Michael Lee at Pirated Thoughts writes, Rihanna—objectively one of the coolest people on the planet—filed a trademark registration through her company Roraj Trade in 2014 for “Robyn” that would cover “online non-downloadable general feature magazines.” So if you were hoping that someone would create an e-magazine about how cool Rihanna is—and that that person would be Rihanna—you might be in luck.
But “Robyn” could be in trouble before it even begins publishing, thanks to DC Comics (of all things). DC filed an opposition to Rihanna’s registration asserting a likelihood of confusion with Batman’s sidekick Robin—objectively one of the least cool superheroes on the planet.
DC cited its “Robin” registrations for comic books and toy dolls in the opposition, and says Rihanna’s “Robyn” would create a commercial impression identical to that of the Batman comics’ Boy Wonder. And while Robyn and Robin are, technically, very similar in spelling and identical in pronunciation, it’s harder to say whether your average consumer would associate the word “Robyn” with Batman’s sidekick.
If anything, I’d confuse “Robyn” with the great Swedish pop star of the same name, but she doesn’t have any U.S. trademark registrations.
Incidentally, this isn’t Rihanna’s first foray into intellectual property law, and so far she has a winning record in the field.
She won a case against U.K. fashion retailer Topshop for selling t-shirts with her picture on them without her permission in January, and beat a copyright infringement claim filed against her and Jay-Z for their hit song “Run This Town” in December 2014 (89 PTCJ 380, 12/12/14). She also settled a copyright infringement suit with celebrity photographer David LaChapelle, who had accused her of using his imagery in one of her videos, in 2011.
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