On August 31, 2022, Paula Hopkins was quoted in Law360 on athletes and other celebrities trying to protect various stances and gestures they have become known for, such as retired sprinting star Usain Bolt seeking to register his "lightning bolt" pose as a trademark.
According to the article, Bolt recently filed an application to register a trademark of the "silhouette of a man in a distinctive pose, with one arm bent and pointing to the head, and the other arm raised and pointing upward" for a broad range of items from eyewear to restaurant and bar services. Bolt first performed this victory pose at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The challenge in these cases, according to Hopkins, is for the applicant to capture the pose or gesture in a logo or motion mark and then connect it to specific goods and services. It's not enough to "simply have a pose or gesture," she noted.
"An important takeaway is to recognize that just because someone is a celebrity and is 'known' for a certain pose or gesture, that doesn't mean the pose or gesture automatically functions as a trademark," Hopkins said. "There needs to be goods and services connected to the pose so that the pose functions as an indicator of source for those goods [or] services."
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