9 Feb 2018

There is a growing tendency for artists to protect their brands.

Rihanna recently won a court battle to remove her image from t-shirts. Now Taylor Swift is protecting her brand by establishing control over where and how her creative output is seen.

Taylor Swift has filed applications in the United States for a selection of her lyrics from her latest album ‘1989’.  The intent is to maintain control over her official merchandise, joining a growing number of pop stars taking action against unauthorised use of their image and work.

The lyrics “Could show you incredible things”, “This sick beat” and “Party like it’s 1989”, among others, have been submitted to the United States Patents and Trade Marks Office covering goods such as clothing, cosmetics, stationery and jewellery, as well as retail services.

But while Rihanna took on Topshop, Taylor Swift’s lawyers have been targeting sellers on the craft website Etsy, a global marketplace for individuals selling mostly homemade items.  The recent popularity of this website has lead to an increase in fan-made merchandise featuring the images and lyrics of popular artists. While Swift has her name and previous album titles already registered, as do many other music artists, her attempt to expand the protection to her lyrics is a first in terms of exercising complete control over her brand.

Whilst it is yet to be seen whether the trade marks will be registered in the United States, the marks have not yet been applied for in Europe. This, of course, leaves it open for a third party – whether or not an Etsy seller wishing to protect their own creative output this side of the pond – to make a swift application.

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