After Susan tells Ken and Carrie about George’s plan to name their *future* child “Seven,” the expecting couple plans to use their name for their own daughter. In response, George gets all crazy on everybody, claiming that he made up the name and that they can’t just steal the name from him. Does George have any legal recourse to keep the name “Seven” all for himself? Can he legally stop Ken and Carrie from naming their daughter “Seven?”
To obtain legal rights to the name “Seven,” George would look to Trademark the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Trademark is designed to “distinguish the source of the goods of one party from that of another.” Essentially, it’s a method of consumer protection. If a product is trademarked, consumers know that they are purchasing the products of a particular business, rather than that of another one. By way of example, Elaine might trademark Top of the Muffin to You so that pastry shoppers know that they are purchasing authentic muffin tops, or Morty Seinfeld might trademark his particular brand of raincoats so that customers can be assured they are buying specifically Morty’s brand of Executive coats.
Since Trademarks are designed for consumer protections, in order for George to trademark the name “Seven,” he would have to show that there is some commercial reason for doing so. And it is very unlikely that George would be able to so. His stated goal is to create a living tribute to his favorite baseball player, Mickey Mantle, not for any commercial purpose. As such, George will not likely be able to prove that there is a commercial reason to trademark the name, and any application he makes would be denied.
Furthermore, in order for a trademark to be issued and remain in effect, it has to actually be in use. A person can’t just trademark things to collect them. Since George keeps waffling, it would be next to impossible for George to trademark the name.
Personal names are essentially impossible to trademark, no matter how much cache they have. The Patent and Trademark office will really only issue trademarks for celebrities who want to ensure that their names aren’t being used by a business or company to fraudulently lure customers into doing business with them. In the age of the internet, this is particularly important. Some less than scrupulous businesses will try use a celebrity name as the URL of their website so that people will mistakenly go to their website, think it is being endorsed by the celebrity, and purchases products from it. This notably happened to Morgan Freeman, who was able to have the site shut down. If any Seinfeld character is likely to trademark his name, it would be the somewhat famous Jerry to protect against others profiting off his name like Morgan Freeman did.
As a final note, copyrighting is used to secure exclusive rights to a creative work, such as a book, film, a piece of art. It is therefore not applicable in this particular situation.
The best person able to trademark “Seven” would be “The Mick” himself – Mickey Mantle. While not his actual name, athletes have often created brand names around their jersey number, such as Tom Brady’s TB12. Even if Mantle did create a brand using his number though, it would not prevent Ken and Carrie from naming their daughter “Seven,” no mater how far it pushed George into labor.