Trademarks + The Tiger King
On April 6th, 2020, a California-based company, Vintage Goods Apparel, LLC filed a federal trademark application for the term, JOE EXOTIC for an apparel line that will sell hats, t-shirts and sweatshirts.
It is not clear whether this brand is directly connected to Joe Exotic himself but it is important to bear in mind that you cannot successfully obtain trademark registration for a famous person's name without their consent. The policy behind such a law should be glaringly
obvious. No matter how you feel about Joe, he worked hard to build his personal brand and therefore, he should be the one to monetize it.
Tiger King is one of the most watched shows ever on Netflix, and Joe Exotic’s mannerisms, slangs and way of life have dominated the social media waves for weeks. Now you may have third parties who may view it as an opportunity to cash in but.... not so fast!
Unless this application is somehow associated with Joe Exotic himself, it could be “dead on arrival” because the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) could refuse it on the grounds that "the applied for mark consists of or comprises a name, portrait, or signature identifying a particular living individual whose written consent must be of record" and also because “the applied-for mark consists of or includes matter which may falsely suggest a connection with Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage (nickname, Joe Exotic), who is a famous person.”
In other words, you must have a famous person's signed consent in order to seek registration of a mark which includes their name.