Thinking about registering your face as a trademark? Don’t be too serious about it.

Imagine this: you’re out shopping and all of sudden you see your face on a set of bathroom accessories – and you didn’t give your consent. What do you do now? Buy the whole lot as fast as you can? Or register your face as a trademark so you can take action against the makers? You don't have to; your face is automatically protected by image rights. 

Illustratie van een persoon

Of course, it's pretty unlikely that tomorrow there will be sets of bathroom accessories with your face on them appearing on the shelves. Luckily, most people only see their own face in the mirror. It’s a different story for people like film stars, elite sportsmen and women, or other famous people though. Yet it doesn’t matter how well-known – or unknown – your face is; everybody's face is protected by image rights in the same way. The good thing about it is you don’t have to do anything to have that protection. It is an automatic right.  

No loss of face 

Image rights mean that your face may not be published without your consent. If someone does publish it, you can file a complaint. So, you don’t need to register a trademark to protect your face.  

Cup of coffee or chicken wings 

Now, maybe you’re thinking: ‘Ok, good, but what about the face of Nespresso, George Clooney? How does that work then?’ Well, that’s a little more complicated. Looking at George Clooney will indeed make some people dream about cups of coffee. Others, however, will think about his Ocean’s Eleven films. In short, George Clooney is not Nespresso. He is using his celebrity – and his good looks – to promote the brand.  

Another example is the face of Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC. There is a stylised version of his portrait included in the KFC logo. And that, of course, is highly protected as a trademark, in every possible way.  

Not unique? No need to worry 

The conclusion is that even the best looking people in the world don’t register their faces as trademarks – because it's not necessary. Ensuring protection for other things is a much better idea. Think about your name, the name of your business or your product, or your logo. What's more, it’s really not so complicated to do. How do you do it? You can find a convenient 4-step plan on the BOIP website.   
Go to the 4-step plan

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