Stephen Spielberg, Meryl Streep and Tom HanksImage copyright
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In her latest film, The Post, directed by Stephen Spielberg, (l) Meryl Streep plays alongside Tom Hanks (r)

Multi-award winning screen actor Meryl Streep has applied to trademark her name to stop others exploiting it.

The application, filed with the US Trademark Office, would give her exclusive rights to the use of her name in the entertainment industry.

Celebrities are increasingly turning to the law to protect their names from unauthorised commercial use.

But the 68-year-old performer is further along in her career than most who have done so.

They include rapper 50 Cent, football-and-fashion super-couple David and Victoria Beckham and heiress and socialite Paris Hilton.

Unusually, rather than blocking the production of merchandise such as perfume, clothes or toys from using Meryl Streep’s name, the application refers only to “live, televised, and movie appearances” as well as “speaking engagements” and “autograph signings”.

But it does block others from using her name for websites about films and the film industry.

Who else has trademarked their name?

  • Actor Sean Connery applied to trademark his name last year.
  • David and Victoria Beckham have not only trademarked their own names, in 2016 they did the same for their children, Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper.
  • Jay Z and BeyoncĂ© applied for trademarks for the names of their children, Blue Ivy Carter, and more recently Rumi Carter and Sir Carter, shortly after they were born.
  • Paris Hilton trademarked not only her name but also her catchphrase “that’s hot”.
  • 50 Cent trademarked his stage name and later sued a fast food chain for using it in an advertising campaign.
  • Taylor Swift has filed around 60 trademark applications including for lyrics like “This Sick Beat” and “Nice to meet you. Where you been?”
  • Football manager Alex Ferguson tried and failed to trademark his name in 2005 after a judge ruled the requested mark was “devoid of any distinctive character”.
  • Kylie Minogue and Kylie Jenner have tussled over their first name as a standalone brand.

Meryl Streep isn’t even Meryl Streep’s real name. She was originally Mary Louise Streep.

But it is under the name Meryl that she has achieved worldwide fame with roles in more than two dozen films including Kramer vs Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, The Iron Lady and her latest movie The Post in which she plays 1970s newspaper editor Katharine Graham.

George Sevier, intellectual property lawyer with Gowling WLG, said it was more common for celebrities to trademark their name earlier in their career when they began to see potential commercial uses.

“I don’t know if it’s late in Meryl Streep’s career. Maybe she’s got a long career ahead of her. But she’s older than most people trademarking their names,” he said.

He said he thought the aim of this move was to prevent commercial use of the name on movie-related websites.

“It seems unlikely that someone is going to offer after-dinner speaking in the name of Meryl Streep unless it is Meryl Streep. It’s probably mostly to stop people using her name on the internet,” said Mr Sevier.

However, it would not prevent people from referring to Meryl Streep on the internet, he said.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42866404

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