Celebrities are famed for their very name and personality – in many instances becoming brands in themselves – making it all the more crucial to protect their names, as well as the names they use as trademarks. Being public figures, they are usually sought after for endorsements, and their lavish livelihood is often more dependent on the royalties they receive from third parties than from their main career. It comes as no surprise then that copycats would want to associate their companies or products as that belonging to or endorsed by a celebrity, in order to confuse the public and ride on the celebrity’s fame. Trademark protection is, as such, essential to celebrities the world over, and what better way to illustrate this than to take a look at how celebrities from our very own shores are tackling the situation?
Bette Midler famously said, “Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world”. Looks like women have more than just beautiful shoes to thank Dato’ Jimmy Choo for then! Just the sight of the trademark “Jimmy Choo” is enough to send many a girl’s heart a-fluttering, and his shoes are adored and coveted by women all over the world. Better still, Dato’ Jimmy Choo is one of our own; he is a Malaysian shoe designer based in London, UK.
How sought after are Dato’ Jimmy Choo’s shoes? Perhaps the fact that he made shoes for Diana, the princess of Wales, would give a clue as to how prestigious his products and brand are. Such a reputation would undoubtedly be a prime target for plagiarizing predators, and the reputation of the trademark “Jimmy Choo” would inevitably deteriorate when other traders use the mark on their products as they wish. Well, thanks to IP rights such as trademark registration and enforcement, infringers will be stopped in their tracks, and shopaholics would be able to breathe easily and buy his shoes without fear!
An interesting point to note is that trademarks are not merely attack and defence mechanisms, but are also money-making machines. For a prestigious brand like “JIMMY CHOO”, this was certainly the case. Dato’ Jimmy Choo had, in fact, completely sold his rights to the “JIMMY CHOO” mark by selling his 50% stake in his company, J. Choo Limited, in 2001 for a hefty sum of £10 million. For many, this would be a dream retirement fund. However, little did he know that the sum of money he received would be mere pittance compared to how much his brand was really worth. The “JIMMY CHOO” business was recently bought over in May 2011 by Labelux, a German luxury goods holding company, for the whopping price of approximately £550 million! At this rate, perhaps the brand’s value may increase more than tenfold in the years to come.
Moving on from this, if a simple Malaysian man with passion for simply beautiful shoes has the potential to transform his business into a legendary brand, perhaps our local celebrities can similarly attempt to reach for the stars. Here’s a quick look at how our younger celebrities are faring in terms of IP protection:
Known for her powerful voice, catchy tunes and sweet personality, Dato’ Hajjah Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin is indeed a very prominent celebrity. As an artist, her achievements are recognised not only locally but also internationally. On top of that, this young star has recently added the title of “entrepreneur” to her list of accomplishments, with the launch of her product brands, such as “Ctea” for tea products and “SimplySiti” for cosmetic products. However, by treading into deeper waters, Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza potentially faces threats from even more copycats, across several types of industries. She would not only need to protect the IP rights in her product brands, but her name, i.e. “Siti Nurhaliza”, would also be a registrable trademark for many types of products, including clothing and other industries in which she actively involves herself.
What’s in a name?
Mention the name “Hiresh Haridas” and blank expressions may abound. However, mention his stage name, Reshmonu, and almost every local R&B music-loving Malaysian would smile in recognition. Known as much for his striking hairstyles as he is for his addictive music, Reshmonu is undoubtedly one of Malaysia’s top modern artistes. He was awarded Best Male Vocalist Award at the 14th Anugerah Industri Music Awards Malaysia 2007, and not only that, but his immense talent, charming persona and up-to-date style (and impressive physique) has also turned him into a fashion icon. Indeed, he has been chosen to be a celebrity model for several brands, and was nominated for the Anugerah Stail Eh! Magazine in the Most Stylish Men Category in 2008. This may be the reason why the mark “Reshmonu” (Application number: 06005315) was applied for by his company, for clothing products.