Are Beyoncé and Jay Z committing fraud on the USPTO?

“Beyoncé performing on The O2 in London” by idrewuk. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

As music entertainers who have reached the top echelon of the industry, power couple Beyoncé and Jay Z earn a great deal of media coverage of both their work and their personal life. One story which has earned a great deal of attention are the twins which Beyoncé gave birth to in June. The couple has been fairly mute on the subject to the press but entertainment news outlets have been hungry for any snippet for news on the twins. By late June, news outlets were reporting that the twins have apparently been named Rumi Carter and Sir Carter, at least according to trademark applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

U.S. Trademark Serial No. 87506188 and U.S. Trademark Serial No. 87506224 were both filed by BGK Trademark Holdings, Beyoncé’s trademark holding company, on June 26th. The ‘188 application would protect the standard character mark SIR CARTER, while the ‘224 patent would protect the standard character mark RUMI CARTER. Both trademark applications claim the use of those marks in commerce for 15 different trademark classes covering a wide variety of goods and services including cosmetics, clothing apparel, baby apparel, playing cards, entertainment services and books.

In recent years, Beyoncé and BGK Trademark Holdings have also tried to register a trademark covering the name of her oldest daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. This January, BGK Trademark filed an application to register the standard character mark BLUE IVY CARTER for a similarly wide array of goods and services as is seen on the Sir and Rumi trademark applications.

However, it appears that Beyoncé’s trademark filing activities raise the question as to whether she, through her trademark holding company, is attempting fraud on the USPTO. “Fraud” is a nasty legal word, but that is the proper term of art to use when there is a question about whether an applicant has been forthcoming and honest with the USPTO. Applicants before the USPTO owe a duty of candor, which if breached by the applicant is because the applicant is said to have committed fraud on the Office.

The BLUE IVY CARTER mark is being opposed by Boston-area event planner Blue Ivy and, indeed, Blue Ivy was successful in opposing BGK Trademark Holdings back in 2012 after BGK first attempted to trademark the Blue Ivy Carter name. One of the grounds for opposition listed in Blue Ivy’s most recent notice of opposition filed in early May with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) is fraud on the USPTO. Blue Ivy’s basis for that claim is a 2013 interview of Jay Z published by Vanity Fair in which Jay Z indicated that he and Beyoncé have no intent on making the items claimed in the BLUE IVY CARTER trademark application. This could constitute fraud as a trademark application requires the filing party to make a declaration that there is a bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce. It’s also possible that, if the couple never intended on making the goods and services claimed in the BLUE IVY CARTER application, they have no true intent to offer those same goods and services listed under the RUMI CARTER and SIR CARTER applications.

As of July 1st, both the RUMI CARTER and SIR CARTER trademark applications are live awaiting examination and neither of them are currently opposed. Still, it is worth noting that you cannot simply obtain a federal trademark in the United States without the bona fide intent to use the trademark in commerce. Further, even if you do obtain a federal trademark and you cease to use the trademark in commerce trademark rights can be lost due to abandonment. Indeed, federal trademarks are not something one obtains and then just sits on until it is convenient at some later unspecified date to use in commerce.


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5 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Eric Berend]
    Eric Berend
    July 12, 2017 08:24 am

    “…federal trademarks are not something one obtains and then just sits on until it is convenient at some later unspecified date to use in commerce.”

    One would never know, seeing the endless continuations of pending status granted to Big Tobacco companies on cannibis-oriented trademark names, for years on end, and with no evidence of impending commercial usage.

  • [Avatar for Jeff]
    July 11, 2017 11:06 am

    I disagree with the other posts that it is an illogical jump to conclude that the new TMs are also fraudulent. Actors tend to act the same way and an opposer would be benefitted by looking deeper into the intent of the applicant. Of course, fraud on other TMs cannot be used to invalidate, during opposition, another TM. However, it can form the basis of a decision for an oppose to move forward with the opposition on the new TMs. I don’t think the author was suggesting that fraud evidence in one TM could/should be used in other TM oppositions.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    July 11, 2017 06:23 am

    “Making a logical jump” – in law, that is not logic.

    Especially given that the incidence of the first case ended in failure.

    The “logical jump” would be to not repeat the same mistake.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    July 10, 2017 02:04 pm

    I think the author intended to make a logical jump from the statement that there is no intent to use Blue Ivy as a mark for the goods described to that there is no intent to use either of these new marks as well.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    July 10, 2017 08:22 am

    Where does the sense of “transferability” of possible fraud on one mark to a separate mark come from?

    The admission about “Blue Ivy” may be damming, but any such admission – made with particularity with one single mark – does not, and in its face, cannot – infect other marks applied for years after the remark.

    Or do you have some legal basis for holding otherwise?