32 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2019

See all articles by William McGeveran

William McGeveran

University of Minnesota Law School

Date Written: November 26, 2018


“Selfmarks” are branded personal identifiers that can be protected as trademarks. From Kim Kardashian West to Beyoncé’s daughter, attempts to propertize persona through trademark protection are on the rise. But should they be? The holder of a selfmark may use it to send a signal about products, just like the routine types of brand extension, cross-branding, and merchandising arrangements fully embraced under modern trademark law. Yet traditional trademark doctrine has adjusted to selfmarks slowly and unevenly. Instead, the law has evolved to protect selfmarks through mechanisms other than trademarks. In an age where brands have personalities and people nurture their individual brands, it is time to ask what principled reasons we have not to protect the individual persona as a trademark.

Keywords: trademark, right of publicity, privacy, branding, personal branding, celebrity, intellectual property

Suggested Citation

McGeveran, William, Selfmarks (November 26, 2018). 56 Houston Law Review 333 (2018), Available at SSRN:

William McGeveran (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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