- Posted on: May 15 2019
By J.R. LoMonaco
Attorney with Dunlap, Bennett & Ludwig with focus on Intellectual Property rights.
[05-15-2019 Leesburg] Ariana Grande continues to expand her brand power and capitalize on her multi-record-breaking fifth studio album and the chart-topping title track, embodying its theme by moving from one type of intellectual property (IP), right on to the next.
The title track and lead single for the album — thank u, next — was released on Nov. 3, 2018, followed by music video premiere on Nov. 30, 2018. The full album released on Feb. 8, 2019, under the same name. All three have received significant critical acclaim and broken numerous records in their individual media categories and platforms. Thank u [musical talent and artistic ability], next?
All three are also protected under a combination of five different copyright registrations:
- Thank U, Next. — Music — PA0002154953 — Pub.: 11.03.2018, Reg.: 11.20.2018
- THANK U, NEXT. — Music — PA0002165872 — Pub.: 11.03.2018, Reg.: 1.29.2019
- thank u, next. — Motion Picture — PA0002164214 — Pub.: 11.30.2018, Reg.: 2.05.2019
- Thank U, Next. — Music — PA0002159484 — Pub.: 11.03.2018, Reg.: 12.18.2018
- thank u, next, Artist: Ariana Grande, USUM71819361 (eRelease)
- Sound Recording — SR0000838272 — Pub.: 11.03.2018, Reg.: 11.20.2018
Following Ariana’s style, we’ll save the complexities of copyright and music licensing for our next hit blog post and move right on to the next type of IP along with her.
On Apr. 2, 2019 the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) received an application from GrandAri, Inc. for the trademark, ARIANA GRANDE THANK U, NEXT (U.S. Trademark Application Serial No. 88/368,432), for various perfumes, body lotions, and bath-time goods. The application is based on intent-to-use, which means these pop-culture-phenom products are not yet available to consumers. But the application is a preview of what’s next from Ariana for her brand and a glimpse into the legal strategies supporting her super-stardom.
This application highlights ways of connecting the many properties within a brand’s expansive portfolio, as it also identifies three of Ariana’s already registered trademarks for the same types of products. :
- ARI by ARIANA GRANDE, U.S. Registration No. 4,861,199
- ARIANA GRANDE: U.S. Registration No. 4,965,758
- ARIANA GRANDE SWEET LIKE CANDY: U.S. Registration No. 5,465,041
Each of these is then also protected under an international trademark registration. Thank u [highly competent legal counsel], next?
Rights of publicity are also in play under this application. The USPTO requires a consent agreement for use of one’s name or likeness when a mark identifies a particular living individual. Since this application specifically names the pop sensation, Ariana had to explicitly agree to its use, which she did with her usual flair:
Collectively then, Ariana is building a new sub-brand empire based upon (almost) three little words. This sub-brand is the next great pillar in Ariana’s castle of an already enormous and well-built IP portfolio.
Interestingly enough, the USPTO received an application on Apr. 16, 2019 for various clothing items in class 025 under the mark, thank u next (U.S. Trademark Application Serial No. 88/383,575) While this is another intent-to-use application, it was seemingly filed without the help of legal counsel as there is no one named as Attorney-of-Record. As it does not seem to have any affiliation with Ariana’s brand or Ariana herself, it will be interesting to see how the USPTO responds after review.
Undoubtedly, the advice of legal counsel could have gone a long way in guiding this applicant from the potential pitfalls of such an application. Competent legal counsel here might have thanked this applicant for the idea, but in the end, properly advised to move on to next.