Taylor Swift is known not only as a world famous music artist but also as an astute business woman. In particular, Ms Swift knows how to protect her branding, as evidenced by her recent US trade mark applications for the phrase, ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ (a song title and lyric from her album ‘Reputation’) and the lyric, ‘The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now.’
Having previously registered US trade marks for her lyrics, it is clear that Ms Swift understands the commercial value of a trade mark: having applied to register her most recent marks for goods and services that can be commoditised (including tops and clothing and fan club services), it is fair to assume that Ms Swift intends to exploit the monopoly that a trade mark for those goods/services will afford and, by implication, prevent unauthorised third parties from using her lyrics for their own gain.
The Value Of A Brand & Protecting It
A failure to appreciate the value of a brand at the outset can have devastating and costly consequences for a business, a situation exemplified by the opposition proceedings between SSP Financing UK Limited and an independent bakery, Knead Bakes.
Knead Bakes was established over three years ago and although successful, the owners did not apply to register its brand until January 2017, some months after the registration of SSP’s ‘KNEAD’ trade mark, which is used by Paul Hollywood backed bakeries. On publication of Knead Bakes’ trade mark application (a stylised logo for the word KNEAD), the independent bakery’s application has been met with an opposition by SSP. The details of the opposition are not known, but to defeat it, it is likely that the independent bakery will need to show that it has sufficient goodwill in the mark that it has applied for, so as to entitle it to protection as an unregistered right notwithstanding SSP’s prior registration.
Had the bakery applied for the trade mark at the outset and prior to the SSP application, it could have avoided this dispute in its entirety.
It seems that although Taylor has a ‘Reputation’ for thinking ahead to protect her brand, Knead Bakery will need to prove reputation to register its trade mark.