Sarah and Bristol Palin Want to Trademark Their Names

Two Women Bolster 'Palin' brand by filing for trademark.

February 4, 2011, 3:14 PM

Feb. 4, 2011— -- Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her daughter, Bristol Palin, appear to be taking steps to further build the 'Palin' brand by applying to trademark their names.

Thomas Van Flein, an attorney and close advisor to the Palin family, submitted the applications for both women to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

"It's certainly not typical, nor in my experience is it common for politicians to trademark their names but that's because politicians don't typically leverage their names outside of the political realm," Anthony Biller, an attorney with Coats and Bennett law firm, said. "[Sarah] Palin, regardless of what you think of her, she's followed an atypical path and she's certainly in the public light outside the realm of politics."

Since leaving the governorship of Alaska a year and a half ago, Sarah Palin has been on a media blitz. She has published two best-selling books. She has starred in a TLC reality TV show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska." She has a Twitter following of more than 400,000 people.

Sarah Palin's Facebook page, which she regularly updates, has nearly 3 million fans. She reportedly got a $7 million deal for her first book, and $250,000 per episode, according to the website The Daily Beast, for each of eight episodes of her TLC show. She has managed to keep a lid on her earnings from a multi-year contract with Fox News and a second book deal with HarperCollins. Palin's political action committee, Sarah PAC, raised more than $3.5 million in 2010.

Bristol Palin has become a celebrity in her own right, appearing on "Dancing With the Stars" in the fall of 2010. Bristol, 20, now lives in Phoenix, where she reportedly was offered the chance to host a radio show.

Bristol Palin wants to trademark her name for "educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of life choices," according to the application filed.

Both Sarah and Bristol Palin give motivational speeches. Bristol Palin, a teen mom, is a spokesperson for abstinence. She reportedly receives between $15,000 and $30,000 per speaking engagement, according to The Associated Press.

Van Flein submitted Sarah Palin's application on Nov. 5 of last year, just one day after the mid-term elections. Bristol Palin's application was submitted Sept. 15, 2010, just a few days before her run on "Dancing With the Stars."

Sarah Palin's application shows that she wants to register her name as a trademark for two commercial services: "information about political elections" and "providing a website featuring information about political issues."

Attorney Biller, whose firm focuses on intellectual property law, said that it's smart for Sarah Palin to attempt to trademark her name to protect her growing Web presence.

A scan of Facebook and Twitter shows countless impostors claiming to be Palin.

"If you have a beef with somebody using your trademark on Twitter or eBay or Facebook, it's hard to get them to take note. If you walk in with federal registration, they're going to give you the benefit of the doubt and take down the website if it [violates the trademark]."

A source familiar with the filing said that the application, if approved, could prevent fraudulent attempts to raise funds in the Palins' names. It could also prevent the misuse of the women's image on things like bobblehead dolls and sex toys, the source said.

Politicians have sued before over the use of their images on dolls. Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sued a bobblehead maker in 2004 for using his image. The doll depicted him in a suit, holding a rifle. Schwarzenegger and the company settled the suit with the agreement that the company could produce the doll without him holding the rifle.

Sarah and Bristol Palin's Attempts to Trademark Names Hits a Roadblock

Biller said that while it's rare for a politician to seek a trademark, others have done it.

"Newt Gingrich leveraged fame from politics...I believe he's registered the name Gingrich productions," Biller said.

Gingrich Productions was registered in June of last year. It's the politician's main website. His attorneys first applied for the trademark in October of 2008.

Biller said that Sarah Palin could be attempting to trademark her name to combat others who have already tried.

In June of last year, somebody attempted to register "Sarah Palin's Going Rogue Rouge."

Intellectual property attorney Daniel Glazer said that what Bristol and Sarah Palin are doing is no different from other celebrity athletes or actors.

"What they're seeking is not unusual," Glazer said. "As opposed to athletes, musicians, actors who maybe seek to trademark with a perfume or a sneaker, politicians would be more likely to obtain trademark for providing content on a web site and speaking services."

Sarah and Bristol Palin's applications have hit a few roadblocks since they were submitted. Both women failed to submit their signatures, which would show written consent that that they want their names to be trademarked.

Secondly, the examples submitted of how Palin's name is already being used for commercial purposes were rejected by the judge evaluating the application.

Palin submitted a Fox New article about her role as a Fox News contributor to prove the commercial use of her name for "information about political elections." She submitted a screen shot of her Facebook page to prove the commercial use of her name for the purpose of "providing a website featuring information about political issues."

Judge Karen K. Bush said those examples were inadequate.

Bush rejected Bristol Palin's example of commercial use because her attorney merely submitted a drawing of her name and did not provide any more information.

The women's attorney has until May 29 to submit different examples and their written consent.

Appropriate examples include "signs, photographs, brochures, website printouts or advertisements that show the mark used in the actual sale or advertising of the services," according to the application.

Van Flein, the attorney who filed the original applications, has now taken a sabbatical and is working for newly elected Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. John Tiemessen, an attorney at Van Flein's former law firm, has taken over the filing.

He said that Sarah and Bristol Palin would answer the judge's questions.

"We're working on it," he said. "We are in the process of answering their question to the best of their satisfaction."

ABC News' Matthew Mosk contributed to this report. The Associated Press contributed to this report.