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My Spidey Senses are Tingling: Registering your alias or stage name as a trademark

Jun 01, 2021

By: Sepideh (Spidey) Nassabi – Registered Trademark Agent and Litigation Lawyer

Profile photo: Sepideh Nassabi - Litigator and Registered Trademark AgentFun fact: 
Autocorrect changes my name from “Sepideh” to “Spidey” and I think I like it.

I am a lawyer and I get at least five emails a week with “Hello Spidey.” Normally, I go through great lengths to correct any mispronunciation or incorrect spelling of my name except for Spidey, of course. As a matter of fact, I have these wild fantasies about walking into court and saying: “Good morning, Your Honour, Spidey Nassabi here on behalf of the plaintiff.” If that introduction doesn’t help me win the case, nothing will (as backup, I promise to also know the facts of the case and the law). 

Some names are just meant for lawyers. Take, for example, Harvey Specter from the show Suits or Vinny Gambini from the movie My Cousin Vinny. Now throw into that mix Spidey Nassabi. I’ve started sharing this with some colleagues and friends, and some have started calling me Spidey. Now this is an alias I can get used to.

Speaking of aliases, I started to think about celebrities with aliases, stage names, or nicknames and what measures they have taken to protect those names.

The first celebrity that came to mind was Sean Combs, also known as Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Puffy, and Diddy. While he has built a $740 million fortune from rapping, songwriting, producing, and acting, I know him best for being Jennifer Lopez’s date to the 42nd Grammy Awards, where she wore the sheer Versace dress with the very low neckline that extended past her navel. That dress changed everything. Okay, back to Sean Combs and his multiple stage names. I did some searches, and it appears that the only stage name that Sean Combs has sought to protect in Canada is Puff Daddy. In fact, he has a trademark registration for that name. Generally speaking, a trademark registration will give him nationwide protection for that stage name in relation to the goods/services listed in his registration.

I then considered the rapper who put Toronto on the map, our very own Aubrey Drake Graham. It appears that Drake has also has sought protection in Canada for his stage names, but he has not filed a trademark application for Drizzy Drake. While he has not filed a trademark application for this name, he has taken steps to protect the name in Canada. In 2011, Drake opposed a trademark application for “Drizzy Drake” by an individual named Samir Kamal. Samir did not pursue the matter and abandoned his trademark application. 

For those of you who might not be familiar with Drake’s music, you might know him as the Toronto Raptors’ global ambassador and the man with the best seats in Scotiabank Arena. Which leads me to basketball. Fans all around the world were devastated to learn of Kobe Bryant’s passing last year. Kobe was one of the best basketball players and was long referred to by the nickname Black Mamba. Kobe took active steps to protect his nickname. Like Drake, Kobe opposed an attempt by someone to register The Black Mamba for use in connection with online retail store services in the United States. The trademark application for The Black Mamba was subsequently abandoned.

Aliases, nicknames, and stage names may have significant commercial value. Think about all of the celebrities that lend their names to promote a range of products and services. It can amount to substantial additional income for celebrities - making an alias a critical asset to protect. One way to protect it is to apply for a trademark registration.

If you have any questions about protecting your alias, nickname, or stage name, please contact Spidey Nassabi. Sorry, that was autocorrect. Let’s try again. If you have any questions about protecting your alias, nickname, or stage name, please contact Sepideh Nassabi at snassabi@mindengross.com.