Trademark a Fairytale Character

Remember your childhood and all the fairytale characters that you encountered in books and movies. How can you register them as trademarks? Today we’re going to discuss exactly this and whether it’s possible.

Rapunzel: A Case Study in Trademark Registration

American company The United Trademark Holdings recently filed an application to register the name RAPUNZEL as a trademark. Yes, the very girl from the Brothers Grimm fairytale! The application sparked a great uproar, and at one US university (a whole university!) students filed a petition to stop the application process in its tracks.

As a result of the petition, the US government refused The United Trademark Holdings to register the RAPUNZEL trademark for toys. They explained it like this: American society does not associate the name Rapunzel with a company or product. The application for registration of this trademark can be regarded as an attempt to tear out a fictional character from the public domain.

I believe the US government made the right decision given that Rapunzel is a folk character and because her story is much older than the fairytale published by the Brothers Grimm. But there are precedents when the same kind of folk character “belongs” to a corporation.

Fairytale Character Registration: Is it possible?

It depends on the country you want to register in and a bunch of other factors. For example, the class you choose will factor into the decision process. Disney has registered The Little Mermaid trademark, but not in all countries and not in all classes. So, it really does depend, but you can give it a try!

If you really want to…

You must make a valid case for registration. You can’t just register a trademark to make life difficult for competitors. If you register a trademark, then you must demonstrate that you’re using it and that you’re not just sending a claim for the use of the character. Otherwise, it will be regarded as unfair competition and your registration will simply be canceled.

If you’re serious about registering a fairytale character, you’ll have a fighting chance to get it approved if you work with me. Send me a message and I’ll send you all the details of how we can work together.