When entrepreneurs or brand owners file trademark applications, that information is available to the public. This information can be useful to competitors in the industry as it can offer hints as to the future plans of the company filing the application. A recent example of this can be seen in Jay-Z’s filing of a trademark application for a new brand “2/J.”
Shawn Carter, better known by his stage name Jay-Z, is part owner of his holding company S. Carter Enterprises which covers most of his business ventures. On May 3, 2021, S. Carter Enterprises filed a trademark application for the word mark “2/J” in International Class 041 for “Entertainment services in the nature of creation, development, and production of television programming; Entertainment services in the nature of the production of television series and movies; Entertainment media production services for motion pictures, television and Internet.”
The application was filed under Section 1(b) with Serial Number 90687926. A Section 1(b) filing is an Intent-to-Use filing, which means that Jay-Z has not yet used the 2/J brand in commerce but has a bona fide intent to use it in commerce in the near future. Our more detailed discussion on the difference between a trademark filing under Section 1(a), Use in Commerce and Section 1(b), Intent to Use can be found here: Here is a snapshot of the filing:
This public record of a trademark filing, and particularly the description of the goods and services this brand will be providing, has led many in the entertainment and legal industry to believe that Jay-Z is in the process of building his own production company, expanding into the television and movie industries. All of the information filed above, combined with Jay-Z’s history of expanding his empire beyond simply music production (seen in his cognac company D’Usse and many other brands), makes this a very reasonable conclusion for his competitors to arrive at.z
In March 2021, Jay-Z sold 80% of Tidal, a high-fidelity music streaming service, to Square (owned by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey) for $302 million. Carter’s recent success as an entrepreneur means that whenever he enters an industry, competitors in that industry need to pay attention. When it comes to starting a television and movie production company, industry leaders know that Carter has the successful pedigree in the entertainment industry, along with the famous connections, and the requisite capital to become a major player in that market.
It is important for any entrepreneur or brand owner to recognize that any trademark application filed to the USPTO becomes public information, available for all competitors in that industry to view and draw conclusions from.
For startup companies and small business entrepreneurs, public disclosure of their own trademark applications should not be much of a concern. However, when a “big whale” is making a move to become a competitor in their industry, that is the type of public disclosure that smaller brand owners should take notice of.
While a trademark application filing may give competitors a bit of insight into the applicant’s future business plans, the brand-protecting benefits that the registered trademark offers typically will outweigh this minor deterring factor in the minds of brand owners and entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs looking to file a trademark application should consult with a seasoned tech startup attorney before taking any action.