“Real World” MTV reality star Johnny Devenanzio has allegedly threatened to sue producers of the popular HBO show “Entourage,” claiming that they stole his nickname “Johnny Bananas” without his permission. Devenanzio claims that he has diligently developed the nickname over the course of five years on television through his “jerk-off” antics on various MTV reality shows.

Under U.S. trademark law, personal names are often considered “merely descriptive” and, thus, are generally not protectable trademarks absent a showing of acquired distinctiveness. Acquired distinctiveness (also known as “secondary meaning”) is evidence that the proposed mark, which in this case is “Johnny Bananas”, has become distinctive as applied to the specified goods or services through exclusive and continuous use in commerce for at least five years.

In this instance, does Devenanzio have a valid claim of acquired distinctiveness in his nickname “Johnny Bananas” in connection with, perhaps, entertainment and/or television-related goods and services based on his alleged five-years use in commerce?

Devenanzio is not the only celebrity who has gone “bananas” over trademarking his nickname. Here are examples of some celebrities who have attempted to federally register or have registered their beloved nicknames:

Celebrity

Trademark 

Goods/Services

App./Reg. No.

Status

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi

SNOOKI

Perfume, false eyelashes, artificial nails, cosmetics, make up, nail grooming products

Entertainment in the nature of personal appearances by a television personality

App. No. 85/275,786; 77/929,985

Applications pending

Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino

THE SITUATION

Clothing

Entertainment

Jewelry

Computer application software for use with smartphones, PDA devices, and tablet computers

Dietary and nutritional supplements

Printed instructional, informational, and education, brochures, booklets, books, and workbooks in the field of diet, exercise, fitness, health, lifestyle, and nutrition

App. Nos. 77/901,546; 85/156,576; 85/156,579; 85/168,011; 85/168,032;

85/168,019

 

Applications pending

Nadya “Octomon” Suleman

OCTOMOM

Disposable diapers

Dresses; pants; shirts; textile diapers

Entertainment in the nature of on-going television programs in the field of reality shows

Computer game software

Toys, games and playthings

Entertainment services

App. Nos. 77/711,852; 77/711,827; 77/689,864

Applications abandoned

Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal

SHAQ

Plush toys and stuffed toys

Trading cards, posters, pictures, stationery, etc.

T-shirts and footwear

Toys, games, playthings and sporting goods

Reg. Nos. 3428609; 2141174

Registered

Jenni “JWoww” Farley

JWOWW

Entertainment services in the nature of an on-going reality based television program

App. No. 77938448

Application pending