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Robin v. Rihanna: D.C. Comics Tries to Stop Pop Star's Trademark

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on May 26, 2015 3:52 PM

Zap! Pow! Bang! In a legal dust up between one of the world's biggest superhero sidekicks and a major pop star, D.C. Comics is opposing Rihanna's attempt to trademark her given name. In an effort to bring more product lines under her umbrella -ella -ella, the singer has filed for trademark protection for her given name, Robyn.

The comic book company claims that the trademarked name could cause confusion with Batman's sidekick, Robin. D.C. Comics holds the trademark for Robin in relation to action figures and comics, according to Inside Counsel.

Robyn or Robin? Who Can Tell the Difference?

In 2014, Rihanna trademarked her given names for use in a variety of retail products. Her last name, Fenty, is currently used on clothing, fragrance and cosmetic products. Robyn appears to have been registered for use as online magazine, according to Vogue. The comic book publisher claims that Rihanna's registration is likely to lead to brand dilution by "blurring and tarnishing" their mark.

Will consumers think that Robyn and Robin share the same Bat time, same bat channel? We're not quite sure how Rhi Rhi's online mag could be confused with the Caped Crusader's Boy Wonder, but if the comic company can show that Robyn would benefit from confusion between the two, they may be able to successfully oppose the trademark.

Crime Fighting and Trademark Policing

Celebrities, just like traditional corporate entities, often move to protect and expand their brand by trademarking their name and likeness. Rihanna has already successfully won a trademark infringement case involving the use of her image, for example. In 2013, she sued British retailer Topshop for selling a tank top featuring her face. That could easily cause a consumer to think the singer had endorsed the product, a British court ruled. Not all celebrity trademarks are successful, however. When Jay-Z and Beyonce attempted to trademark Blue Ivy, the name of their daughter, they were successfully opposed by a wedding planner who had been using the phrase for several years.

More generally, the Robyn-D.C. kerfuffle demonstrates the lengths companies can go to police their trademarks, particularly when those marks are common words or names. One of the best ways to prove the worth of the legal department is to protect a company's intellectual property. Constant monitoring of potential trademark infringement or dilution can help protect your company's products, whether they're crime fighting fantasies or diamonds in the sky.

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