the suzi parker files

Politics, Pop Culture and Ponderings

Posts Tagged ‘dancing with the stars

Protecting the Palin Brand: Sarah and Bristol Go for Trademark Status

leave a comment »

Sarah Palin has become an industry. The former Alaskan governor has had books deals, starred in a reality television show and set up a political PAC that raised $3.5 million last year. Through midterm election endorsements, broadcast on her 2.7 million-fan Facebook page or via her 400,000 follower Twitter feed, Palin has cemented alliances to new GOP governors such as South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and various members of Congress.

But Palin is more than just a former mayor, governor, vice presidential candidate and political force. She has catapulted over most politicians to a status of entertainment icon. She has become a brand — and she’s trying to protect it by trademarking her name.

The Palin brand is so valuable, that other family members are in on it. Sarah Palin’s 20-year-old daughter, Bristol, is a well-compensated spokeswomen on sexual abstinence for the Candie’s Foundation, has become a reality star in her own right on “Dancing with the Stars” and may land a job as a radio show host in Arizona.

And these savvy women are taking all the prudent steps a brand holder does to protect an asset. In the last several months, Politics Daily has learned that the Palin family lawyer, Alaska attorney Thomas Van Flein, has filed applications to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark “Sarah PalinĀ®” and “Bristol PalinĀ®.”

According to patent office application (serial # 85170226), Van Flein registered for a trademark of “Sarah Palin” on Nov. 5, 2010 — three days after the midterm elections. The government trademark examining attorney has “found no conflicting marks that would bar registration.” In other words, nobody else had already taken the proposed trademark.
A “Bristol Palin” application (serial #85130638) was filed on Sept. 15, 2010. Bristol Palin’s stint with “Dancing With the Stars” premiered on Sept. 20.

Celebrities often trademark their names to protect their image or brand from others who might try to cash in on their likeness or use their name in an inappropriate way.

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, the Palin applications are still active, but not without problems.

For Sarah Palin’s application, there are two classes of commercial service for which her name would be a registered trademark. One is for “information about political elections” and “providing a website featuring information about political issues.” The second is for “educational and entertainment services … providing motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values.”

The “Bristol Palin” application is for “educational and entertainment services, namely, providing motivational speaking services in the field of life choices.”

Both applications were assigned to the same examining attorney, Karen K. Bush. Bush is no stranger to trademark applications with a political slant. The patent attorney ruled in 2007 that a man could not file a trademark application on the name Obama bin Laden.

The current status on the Sarah Palin application indicates the patent office wants more information — specifically, it seems the application is missing Sarah Palin’s written consent to have her name trademarked. It is not known whether that issue has been cleared up.

Palin’s application also had other issues. When someone applies for a trademark, the patent office wants an example of how his or her name has been used for a commercial purpose. Examples include “signs, photographs, brochures, website printouts or advertisements” that show the proposed trademark “used in the actual sale or advertising of the services.” The samples submitted with Sarah’s form were a copy of a Fox News Channel webpage dated Jan. 11, 2010 featuring a story with the headline “Palin to Join Fox News as Contributor,” and a PDF file of a screen shot from the Washington Speakers Bureau website containing the former Alaska governor’s biography plus another screen shot of her Facebook profile.

Bush, the examining attorney, wrote that the examples were insufficient and did not show any commercial use connected to political elections. Palin was asked to send another example.

Bush also had questions regarding the initial date — 1996 — that Palin said she first used her name for a commercial purpose. That year, Palin served as a member of the Wasilla City Council and in October 1996 was elected mayor. The query suggests the patent examiner would like Sarah Palin to prove she was using her name at that time in a commercial capacity in regard to “political election information and providing a website about political issues.”

Bush did rule that that the examples submitted for “educational and entertainment services and motivational speaking” were acceptable.

The file is still pending, and Palin and her attorney were given six months to respond. So far, according to a spokeswoman at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, if her attorney has responded, the letter has not been uploaded to the government website. Van Flein did not return calls or e-mails for this story.

Bristol Palin’s application has similar problems as her mother’s. It wasn’t signed and didn’t show her proposed trademark used in a commercial context. She must file examples that demonstrate how “Bristol Palin” is used in the actual sale or advertising of her “motivational speaking services in the field of life choices,” according to Bush’s letter to Van Flein.

Politicians seldom trademark their name but they might do so to prevent others from using it, for example, to sell shoddy, unapproved merchandise or “official” candidate memorabilia. A search for other political figures such as President Barack Obama and potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney do not show any pending trademark applications. It is a rarity, say trademark attorneys, for political figures to file such forms.

The Palins are facing a long road in the effort to trademark their names. “Generally one can trademark one’s name,” said Jeffrey S. Kravitz, a Los Angeles-based intellectual property attorney. “But, it is not easy.”

Bristol Palin’s Washington University Appearance Canceled Amid Protests

leave a comment »

Bristol Palin will not be speaking about abstinence at Washington University in St. Louis next month.

The university said in an e-mailed statement, “The student group that invited Bristol Palin…has mutually agreed with her not to proceed with a contract regarding Palin’s participation in a panel discussion at Washington University on Feb. 7.”

The university’s Student Health Advisory Committee invited Palin, who became a single mother at 18 and is now a spokeswoman for the prevention of teen pregnancy, to speak on abstinence during Washington University’s student Sexual Responsibility Week. That week will focus on creating an open sexual dialogue on campus.

Students started a protest via Facebook to halt Palin’s appearance, which would have been paid for with student-generated funds. It had been reported that she would receive between $15,000 and $30,000 to speak.

A Facebook group called “Keep Bristol Palin out of the sex discussion at Washington University” said, “It’s not about conservative or liberal, it’s about not wasting our money on people who don’t matter…especially people who are only famous for being the teenage pregnant daughter of a politician. That is not a credential — it’s a gimmick. So reach across the aisle — and stand up and say something.”

That group also launched a petition as did the university’s College Democrats.

Palin, who was a finalist on last year’s “Dancing With The Stars,” is an ambassador for The Candie’s Foundation, which aims to prevent teen pregnancy.

Last week, Palin appeared at a charity fundraiser in Texas that benefitted the nonprofit Central Texas Orphan Mission Alliance, which takes an anti-abortion stance. Sarah Palin also appeared last week in Texas for a fundraiser for Lubbock Christian School.

The university said in its statement that Dr. Katie Plax, head of adolescent medicine and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine, would participate on the panel instead of Palin.

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 3:26 am

Welcome, 2011: Sarah Palin and Julian Assange on the Radar Screen

leave a comment »

Ready or not, 2011 is here.

Consider some of these upcoming historic milestones as the new year arrives. 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of Jefferson Davis becoming president of the Confederacy, the 70th anniversary of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech (actually, his 1941 State of the Union address), the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s first presidential news conference — and the first ever to be broadcast live on television), and 25 years since the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

But 2011 will have its own special history, and here are some of the events that will help write it:

Sarah Palin’s presidential decision: Palin will have to decide this year whether to run for president. In order to compete in the 2012 primaries, she will have to soon start building a ground game in states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Sure, she has her reality television show, two books, and husband Todd may show up on the next “Dancing With the Stars,” but Palin must do much more than be a household name to win a crowded GOP primary.

Sarah Palin, Julian AssangeThe former Alaska governor accumulated a lot of favors in the midterm election by supporting winning candidates in key presidential states — such as Nikki Haley in South Carolina — via her Sarah PAC. But she has a lot of work to do on the popularity front. A recent poll by CNN/Opinion Research shows that Palin would offer the weakest challenge to President Obama among current top-tier GOP contenders.

Time is ticking for Palin to make a decision because there are . . .

GOP primary debates: Yes, they’re already in the works. The Reagan Presidential Foundation will kick off the election season by hosting a panel of GOP presidential candidates in the spring. Then there’s June 7, 2011: That’s the date of the first presidential debate in New Hampshire for the 2012 GOP primary. The candidate forum will be sponsored by the New Hampshire Union Leader, WMUR-TV, and CNN. Likely participants: Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, outgoing Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Wild cards: Palin, Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush.

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding: The royal couple will tie the knot on Friday, April 29 at the thousand-year-old Westminster Abbey in London. The wedding may not draw as massive a crowd as gathered for Williams’ parents’ nuptials 30 years ago in St. Paul’s Cathedral, but the media will certainly provide massive coverage. Prime Minister David Cameron has already designated the date as a public holiday.

The event will require major security, the cost of which could top $8 million. British special forces will go undercover with Afghan war veterans from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment to watch for any potential attacks around Westminster Abbey. The wedding will also boost tourism — one company has launched a walking tour of locations that helped “define the next royal golden couple.” Also on tap: Kate is soon to be immortalized in wax by Madame Tussauds, and the royal couple will be featured on a British coin.

Julian Assange’s autobiography: No date has been set for the book’s release, which will be published sometime in 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf and Britain’s Cannongate. The WikiLeaks founder is fighting extradition from England to Sweden, where he faces questioning for alleged sex crimes. Assange has said he doesn’t want to write a book but must do so in order to cover his ballooning legal costs and to continue funding his whistleblower website, which has angered and embarrassed governments worldwide by releasing hundreds of thousands of confidential cables and other documents.

To capitalize on (and extend) Assange’s 15 minutes of fame, Knopf will likely have to publish the book sooner rather than later. Assange will also likely cash in on a movie adaption of the book, especially since his story seems to have all the components — mystery, intrigue and sex — that sell tickets.

The space shuttle retirement: In 2011, America’s space shuttle will blast into orbit for the final time. The last scheduled flight is in early April. NASA is retiring its shuttle fleet after 30 years of service to make way for future programs that will send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 — part of Obama’s new space exploration initiative. The president cancelled NASA’s Constellation program, which was developing new vehicles to send astronauts back to the moon. The end of the shuttle means that the United States will soon have to hitch rides with the Russians to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Last year, former astronaut (and senator) John Glenn condemned the cancellation of the shuttle program. In a statement, he lamented that “for the next five to ten years, the launches of U.S. astronauts into space will be viewed in classrooms and homes in America only through the courtesy of Russian TV. For the ‘world’s greatest spacefaring nation,’ this is hard to accept.”

Princess Diana and Sarah Palin: Mirror Images?

leave a comment »

Sarah Palin is the political Princess Diana.

That’s what one GOP source told me recently. “Let’s be honest. If she didn’t have looks, we wouldn’t be talking about her. You wouldn’t be covering her. She’s like Princess Diana.”

Shallow? Yes. But isn’t there truth there?

Princess Diana captured hearts at age 19 when Prince Charles selected her as a bride. Sarah Palin hit the scene when Sen. John McCain picked her as his running mate, although she’d already had a spread in Vogue as Alaska’s governor.

Princess Diana, for the most part, was a celebrity who used her power for good. Sure, she visited the White House and danced with John Travolta. She engaged in charity work, especially in the areas of AIDS and leprosy. She wore stunning clothes but gave very few interviews. She seemed unapproachable, like a China doll to be admired but not touched, even in the last year of her life when she lobbied in a high-profile crusade against land mines.

Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, but then gave up her governorship to spend more time in the lower 48 states. Palin’s charity work comes in the form of SarahPAC. She shows up, and candidates raise a lot of money for their campaigns. Many politicos agree that Palin hasn’t done much as far as resume building, say like Hillary Clinton, who served eight years in the Senate, for a White House run.

Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican consultant, said this week that Palin is “a media star and a great curiosity” but is lacking on political credentials. Rollins said on CNN, “You were plucked out of political obscurity because of the whim of presidential contender John McCain, who didn’t know you and made you into an overnight sensation. You performed well for three weeks in the campaign, did better than expected against Joe Biden in the debate, and then you self-destructed.”

Rollins may have gone a little far by using “self-destruct” to describe Palin. If anything, she has reinvented herself much in the vein that Diana did after her divorce from Prince Charles. Palin has carved a path in Republican politics using SarahPAC and social media. If Diana were alive in the 21st century, she might very well give Palin or Lady Gaga a run for their tweets by engaging with her fans online.

Diana made headlines just for crossing a street or wearing a designer gown — or even a pair of blue jeans — with paparazzi in tow. In this modern age of microscopic details, Palin gets attention every time she tweets, posts a Facebook note, signs a book or appears on a radio or television show. It doesn’t matter if she is commenting on WikiLeaks, North Korea, Alaska or her daughter Bristol’s recent appearance on “Dancing With the Stars.” Women want Palin’s upswept hairstyle and her glasses.

Trendsetting aside, Palin shares with Diana a must-have job skill to catapult to the celebrity stratosphere — working the media — including, these days, social media.

It may seem like Palin talks a lot, but, in fact, she doesn’t. Like Diana and the royal family, Palin tightly controls her own message with the help of Rebecca Mansour, a mystery woman who is communications director for SarahPAC. Mansour allegedly tweets and posts Facebook notes for Palin in the former vice-presidential candidate’s unyielding, and at times snarky, tone. Palin has even created her own show about Alaska to further enhance an image of a Mama Grizzly who takes no prisoners or animals. Or fish!

Palin only appears on television shows that are “Sarah friendly,” which don’t play hardball or ask her questions she doesn’t want to answer. Diana often did the same thing.

As some outlets reported at the time of her death, Diana indulged in a passive-aggressive love affair with the media. She favored reporters who helped create her image of a golden goddess in a “loveless marriage.” She, along with a press secretary (a royal version of Mansour) and later solo, used the media to sculpt her image through favored media contacts.

As PBS’ “Frontline” reported in 1997, one editor invited Diana to lunch at The Sun. Diana let him know she knew all about him. She teased him with “I hear you are a friend of Camilla’s.” As the “Frontline” story says, “The truth is that the princess had been colluding in her own coverage at least since March 1991.”

Sound familiar? Palin coined the term “lamestream media” to call out those who don’t play her game.

It only helps that, like Diana, Palin has great hair, a marathoner’s body and a telegenic face. The Learning Channel isn’t exactly rushing to sign Sharron Angle for a show about Nevada.

Even after Diana’s death, the royal spotlight shone on the royal family. Diana’s son, Prince William, and his impending wedding to Kate Middleton will keep all eyes on all things royal for months to come. Palin, in the same vein, is using her family to keep herself in the news.Through her reality television show, Palin introduces audiences on her own terms to her immediate family, as well as nieces and nephews.

It’s as if Palin is creating her own royal family since America doesn’t have one.

Diana wanted to seem more like a commoner after her failed marriage. Palin, a political commoner, wants to show the world that she isn’t a blue-blood living in a mansion — while making the money so she could. So far, she’s doing very well at the game.