Mention “Lisa Blackpink” or "Lalisa Manobal" and it would be almost impossible to find anyone in Thailand or any self-respecting K-Pop fan who has not heard of her, one of four members of K-Pop girl group “BLACKPINK”, which has 33.4 million subscribers on YouTube to date. Due to Blackpink’s success and her own shining performance (including her distinctive look), Lisa has become very popular and has fans around the world, as proven by her 29.7 million followers on Instagram, making her the most followed K-Pop idol. In addition, Lisa was ranked No.1 on the list of 100 Most Beautiful Faces in Asia 2019 by TC Candler.
Thus, it is not surprising that her agency, YG Entertainment Inc (YG), recently applied to register Lisa’s surname and real name – “Manobal” and “Manobal Lalisa” – as trademarks. Previously, YG also trademarked their other artists’ names, such as “Taeyang”, “G-Dragon”, and “PSY”. Of course, other bands’ names as “BLACK PINK”, “BIGBANG”, “2NE1”, “Epik High”, “iKON”, and “Akdong Musician”, or the popular song titles like PSY’s “GANGNAM STYLE” or T.O.P of BIGBANG’s “DOOMDADA” have also been trademarked already.
Upon searching through the Global Brand Database of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), it appears that since last December, YG has filed trademark applications for Lisa’s surname and real name “Manobal” and “Manobal Lalisa” in 13 countries around the world, namely; South Korea, Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, Indonesia, India, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam, for the protection of clothing products (Class 25) as shown below. So, we can expect that Lisa may have her own clothing brand under YG’s production and management.
Examples of applied marks and goods
Some interesting questions to ponder would be: Why does YG register artist names, band names, and song titles as trademarks? And, why register these trademarks in so many countries around the world?
The answers to these are that the registration of any word, name, or mark as a trademark will prevent and prohibit another person to (1) use the same or similar word, name, or mark for the same or related goods or services or (2) register the same or confusingly similar word, name, or mark for the same or related goods or services. With this, brand owners like YG could exploit the benefit and make easy money from their registered marks. (We will elaborate on how you can “make the money from your registered mark” in a future article.)
In the case of Lisa, this means that, if all trademark registrations are granted, YG will have the exclusive right on the word(s) “Manobal” and “Manobal Lalisa” for clothing products in 13 countries around the world. YG will also have the right to take legal action on those who use the said words on the same or related goods. It should be noted, however, that trademark registration will merely provide legal protection for the country in which the mark is registered, meaning that having a registered trademark in one country does not prevent others from registering or using the same or confusingly similar mark in other countries or territories. This, therefore, is the reason why YG has sought to register the trademarks in countries which will be huge markets for them. In addition to the protection term of the trademark registration, which is 10 years (and renewable every 10 years after that), the exclusive right to Lisa’s names as registered will belong to YG indefinitely…
By now, readers may feel that it is unfair to Lisa if the exclusive rights for her real name and surname for clothing items in 13 countries around the world are owned by YG forever, and might question how she would handle this if her contract with YG is terminated. For this question, we have no answers because we do not know if there exists a contract between YG and Lisa to allow YG to trademark her name and surname, and if so, whether the contract is fair to both parties. But, there is one thing that we do know; that is, if you have (or are planning to have) your own business and brand but have never considered registering your trademark, your brand might be in danger! As mentioned above, even powerful entertainment companies like YG don’t just trademark their company name, but they also make sure to register their bands’ names, artists’ names, song titles, everything that could be a future asset for their company as a trademark. So, think about registering your trademark as soon as possible, before your trademark goes… Boombayah!
Saowanee Leewijitsin is an IP Executive at KASS IP Services (Thailand) Company Limited. KASS is an established intellectual property firm with over 20 years of experience and offices in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. For more information, visit www.kass.asia or drop an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.