6. Names of Persons

Date Published

If a trade mark contains or consists of a name of a person (or group of people) which is well known in relation to the specified goods or services, the provisions of section 43 may be triggered. Such names could consist of the given name, surname, combination of both or known nickname for the well known person (or group of persons).

For example, if an application is filed for the name of a well known person, and the goods or services are clearly likely to be perceived by consumers as connected with or having the endorsement of the well known person, or that he or she is involved in the production of the goods or the supply of the services, the provisions of section 43 may be triggered. Connections of this kind would exist between the name of a well known swimmer and swimming costumes or the name of a well known cricketer and cricket coaching services.

If the trade mark application is submitted by the well known person or it is clear from other available information that the applicant has permission from the well known person or their representative to file for the well known persons name, a section 43 ground for rejection is not required.

However, if the examiner is not satisfied that the relevant relationship exists between the applicant and the well known person referred to, a ground for rejection may be appropriate.

If the trade mark consists of or contains a name of a well known person and the application is in respect of goods and/or services outside the area that the person is well known for, then careful consideration of several factors in combination, informed by research, is required.

Firstly, the examiner will have to consider whether consumers aware of a particular well known name are likely to see the name as referring to the well known person, rather than someone else with the same name. The more common the name, whether it is a given name, surname or combination of both, the less likely it is that consumers will make this assumption, as many well known people have names shared by many other people. Conversely, a highly distinctive and unusual name shared by very few people is more likely to be assumed by consumers to refer to the well known person.

Secondly, the particular field in which the name is well known is relevant. In today’s market, consumers expect certain persons with a high profile or celebrity status to endorse a wide range of goods and services, often completely unrelated to the areas in which they are well known and/or have expertise.

Thirdly, consideration is required of the extent of connection between the field the name is well known for, and the goods and/or services specified. The closer the link between the goods or services and the particular field in which the name is well known, the more likely it is that consumers are going to assume a connection to the well known name exists.

While all the above factors are relevant, the question that the examiner must ultimately decide is whether the trade mark conveys a connotation that the goods or services have a connection with or approval of the well known person(s) to such a level that confusion or deception is likely to occur within the relevant sector of the public.


An applicant may overcome this type of section 43 ground for rejection by providing the well known person’s written permission to use their name as a trade mark. Where permission is provided this should be made clear by way of an endorsement. For example:

​​​​​​​<name of well known person> has consented to the use of his/her name as a trade mark.



​​​​​​​6.1 Images of Persons


The considerations applying to the names of well known persons also apply to images of those persons. Images can include photographs, portraits, cartoon caricatures and other stylised representations.

An applicant may overcome this type of section 43 ground for rejection by providing the well known person’s written permission to use their image as a trade mark. Where permission is provided this should be made clear by way of an endorsement. For example:

The representation in the trade mark is that of <name of well known person> who has consented to the use of their image as a trade mark.


A section 43 ground for rejection should not be raised merely because a trade mark contains the image of a person. The section 43 ground for rejection should only be raised if the examiner considers that the connotation discussed above is likely to arise.


​​​​​​​6.2 Deceased Persons


Generally, a section 43 ground for rejection will not apply in respect of long deceased historical figures, even if they were well known for the same field as the specified goods and services are in. For example, the use of the name “W G Grace” (a famous cricketer whose career spanned from around 1860 to 1900) on cricket bats would be more likely to be regarded as a focus on a bygone era rather than a suggestion that there is any endorsement of, or input by, that person or their descendants.

However, if research indicates that the commercialisation of a deceased well known person’s name or image is being controlled by their estate or another authorised entity then (unless that entity is the applicant) raising a section 43 ground for rejection may be warranted, using the considerations as for living people above. This is because of the likely connotation that the estate endorses or otherwise has a connection with the specified goods and/or services. The more well known the person, and the more recently they died (especially if from the mid 20th century onwards), the greater the likelihood that such a situation exists.

Often in such cases, research will reveal if an estate or entity is controlling the use of the well known name. However, if no such control is apparent, objections should not be routinely taken.

Amended Reasons

Amended Reason Date Amended

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