I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t play one on TV, but after reading some quotes from the panelists that made the decision to deny the complain (without the respondent even offering a rebuttal), it almost sounds like the panelists are saying that Meg Whitman is not “famous enough” to have her name protected:
From the panelists:
“fame alone is not sufficient to establish common law trademark or service mark rights in a personal name. Rather, the Complainant’s personal name must be used such that a relevant segment of the public comes to recognize her name as a symbol that distinguishes her services from those of similarly situated service providers. “
For example, Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods is a globally known name who’s “brand name” notoriety spans many genres and sectors. People immediately associate their names with something.
It sounds like they are saying that Meg Whitman‘s name, while known in tech circles, is not immediately known across the board as being attached to something. Like her personal brand isn’t as universal.
However, looking at this quote from the panelists:
“Unlike the complainants in Monty and Pat Roberts, Inc., and Steven Rattner, supra, the Complainant here has presented no evidence of the actual use of her name as a source indicator in connection with the services she is claiming.”
It seems like they may be saying that Meg Whitman (the complainant), simply did not present enough compelling evidence to prove that her personal brand is as widely associated with a specific service.
There’s a lot of talk in social media about the idea of “personal branding“. This seems like one of those factual based examples that support the argument that you need to work to establish yourself as a brand.
Although I have never personally heard of Monty Roberts, it seems he presented enough evidence of his personal brand in this UDRP case to convince the panelists that he should hold the rights to a .org domain name containing his name.
How’s your personal brand doing?