Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, is in the midst of a battle with DC Comics to trademark her first name. Turns out, in June 2014, the superstar singer, by way of Roraj Trade LLC (the company that holds the rights to her intellectual property) filed to federally register the term “Robyn” in the class of goods/services in connection with “providing on-line non-downloadable general feature magazines.” So, it appears Rihanna wants to use her real name in association with an online magazine venture.
Enter: DC Comics, the American comic book giant, which has been responsible for publishing Batman since the 1930’s and which has held a trademark registration for “Robin” (Batman’s sidekick) for action figures and for comic books for years now. As a result, DC Comics is asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to keep the singer from registering her Robyn mark, as it is confusingly similar to DC’s trademark.
This past week, DC Comics filed to oppose the registration of Rihanna’s “Robyn” trademark, asserting that Rihanna has had full knowledge of DC Comic’s trademark and as a result, is trying to use a mark that is in sight, sound and commercial impression virtually identical to DC Comic’s trademark. The comic book co. argues that because of the similarity between the marks, consumers are likely to mistakenly associate the goods and services provided by Rihanna under the “Robyn” trademark with DC Comics’ own “Robin.” DC Comics further claims that this would be beneficial to the singer, as DC Comics’ has invested a lot of time and money establishing the character and the trademark and the resulting goodwill.
This seems like a bit of a stretch for DC Comics to win this one, as I’m not sure that the average consumer, if he saw an online magazine named “Robyn,” would think there is a connection or association with Batman and DC Comics. This is important, as it is the key inquiry in a trademark infringement matter. It is also worth arguing that Rihanna, an eight-time Grammy winner, who has toured the world a number of times, and covered Vogue magazine three times, is not really trading on the goodwill of the Robin trademark for her own benefit.