(949)829-2186 sean@lynchllp.com

Or: Kelly Slater Trademarked His Name and So Should You

Surfers are notoriously easy going.

Passion for the sport come before exploitation for monetary gain. But if you’re serious about a career in surfing, you need to be serious about protecting yourself. When you get to the level of signing contracts, endorsing products, or creating original films, you need to begin to build a brand of your own that’s synonymous with quality.

If you’re working on developing a career as a professional surfer, that means building a brand and registering a trademark. Don’t just take my word for it – take Kelly Slater’s. The surfing titan has registered his own name as a trademark for use with the following goods and services:

Entertainment in the nature of competitions in the field of surfing; Entertainment Services, namely personal appearances by a sports celebrity, acting and/or voice services for motion pictures, television, videos and/or video games; providing a website on a global computer network featuring information about appearances, accomplishments, exploits and a biography of a world champion surfer.

Obviously, Kelly has had an uncommonly illustrious career. Making your name is the first step as a career surfer, but you’re already working on that. The next piece is to make sure that no one else can exploit your name. (Let’s ignore right of publicity, for now.)

If you’re working on developing a career as a professional surfer, that means building a brand and registering a trademark.

Let’s break down what Kelly protected, and why. In this registration, Kelly first lists “Entertainment in the nature of competitions in the field of surfing.” Easy enough: it is his right to use his name in association with surf competitions. So now, outside of being a dick move, if anyone tries to call their competition, for example, “The Kelly Slater Surf Contest,” they are infringing his trademark. This is Kelly’s extremely effective tool to make sure no one misuses his name.

Next, Kelly lists “Entertainment Services, namely personal appearances by a sports celebrity, acting and/or voice services for motion pictures, television, videos and/or video games.” The man has appeared in a multitude of different movies, TV shoes, and surf videos. So why wouldn’t he want to protect himself in the marketing of those things? By having this registration, he can prevent people from marketing their latest surf video (among other things) using the name “Kelly Slater.”

Finally, the registration covers, “providing a website on a global computer network featuring information about appearances, accomplishments, exploits and a biography of a world champion surfer.” I’m not so sure you would include “of a world champion surfer” in your own registration, but you do you. Basically, this protects the use of his name in association with websites. With this registration, no one could market their website using the name “Kelly Slater.” He owns the rights to that use of his name.

Don’t let the law scare you. You have a long career ahead and you and your name is your most valuable asset. Don’t let others exploit it without compensation – register a trademark and start building a brand and cement your legacy.