Trademark registration is pretty powerful, it allows you to police and protect your brand from infringers. There are a myriad of reasons why trademark protection is awesome thing, but are there reasons when it is not? Media mogul Tyler Perry was recently granted permission to use the title, “What Would Jesus Do?” as the name of an entertainment program. Mr. Perry originally applied for the mark in 2008 and prevailed in a battle with a reality show creator who laid claim to the mark.
Trademark protection affords the owner of the mark the ability to enforce his/her brand against direct infringers but also those who use something “confusingly similar”. In this context, it is arguable that using the name “Jesus” in a title might be confusingly similar to Mr. Perry’s now protected brand. For example, a play entitled, “I Know What Jesus Will Do” could be deemed confusingly similar to “What Would Jesus Do?” So the granting of the trademark may be considered controversial by some in that it may pull on religious sensibilities in a strange, uncomfortable kind of way.
The registration of the word “Jesus” is not revolutionary by any means. For example, there are registered brands such as, “Jesus is my Source and that’s my Choice” and “Jesus is Off the Hook” both in the merchandising class of service, for t-shirts and wearing apparel. However, those uses are not necessarily at the forefront of urban influence. Most assuredly, Mr. Perry fought to own the “What Would Jesus Do?” mark with the intention to use it in a most public way. Nevertheless, ultimately, no man has a lock on what it is Jesus Will Do. IJS.
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