Why I Bought Domain Names For My Kids

If Beyonce and Jay Z are trademarking their kids, should we?

I just spent the last half an hour buying my own children’s names, thanks in part to Jay Z and Beyonce. Why? Because these days, first comes love, then comes baby—shortly followed by baby’s social media accounts..? 

I now am the proud owner of the domain names for both of my children, with all possible endings of the accounts including .com, .ca, .org. and .net. Purchasing all the accounts cost me just under $200—well worth the price, especially in this day and age of ‘domain sitters,’ who will buy domain names in hopes of selling them back to you. This happened to a very good friend of mine, whose 13-year-old daughter is a super talented singer. Someone, somewhere, bought the domain name of her daughter’s first and last name together, probably after seeing how talented she is on her YouTube videos.

Understandably, my friend was irate and also a little freaked out. I, too, was stunned last week when I tried to set up an e-mail for my five-year-old. I had to try six different versions of his first and last names to get anything remotely like his given name (it appears, his name is not as unique as I first thought). So why does a five-year-old need their own e-mail account? Well, obviously they don’t since they can’t type. Neither can newborns. But thanks to a friend, who set up an e-mail account for her newborn, I’ve started copying what she's been doing since her son was born, which is e-mailing little notes to my son's account, like, ‘Today we played mini golf for the first time!’ and, ‘Yesterday you had a complete meltdown over a fidget spinner!’

I think this is a brilliant way of storing memories so that one day, your child can read all the e-mails you sent them about their milestones and when exactly they happened (and so they, too, can ask, ‘What the heck is a fidget spinner?')

Also, I won't lie, it’s fun to set up an e-mail for a baby. As soon as I set my son up with a Gmail account—the closest one to his actual name I could grab—I sent an e-mail to his father saying, ‘Mommy is so fabulous!’ (Really, what else would I write?)

However, not everyone found it so funny, when more than a decade ago, I set up an e-mail account for my daughter, so I could send funny emails posing as my baby, who couldn’t talk, let alone find her nose. I once sent her father an e-mail asking for a specific Mother's Day gift. It obviously was meant as a joke. Her father had a good laugh. I got my gift. The baby slept. But others were incensed that I would ‘pose’ as my baby.

Quite frankly, I think I was ahead of the game, at least for my first born who, if needed, still has a Yahoo account. My tip to new mothers is not only to get as much sleep as you can, but also to secure your child’s name in today’s world of social media, because like I said, getting your child’s names for their own accounts is almost impossible if you leave it too late—unique name or no. So, yes, take that selfie in the first 30 seconds of your child’s life. Then set them up with their own accounts, because you snooze, you lose.

I almost went as far as pulling a Jay Z and Beyonce, or David and Victoria Beckhamboth couples who have secured trademarks for their celebrity babies. This isn’t as easy, or cheap, as I learned. It would cost upwards of a thousand dollars for each name, to go through the process of trademarking names, and you need to have some sort of business reason to win the right to trademark your child’s name.

David and Victoria Beckham's daughter, Harper, has also been trademarked

(David and Victoria Beckham's daughter, Harper, has been trademarked)

Beyonce and Jazy-Z, according to People magazine, tried to trademark daughter Blue Ivy’s name, shortly after she was born in 2012, but they were denied. Their motivation, as Jay explained to Vanity Fair at the time, "wasn’t for their own profit, though, but simply so they could keep other people from marketing products with her name." But Blue Ivy was eventually trademarked this spring, and her newborn twin siblings Rumi and Sir Carter's monikers have been filed, which is how the world found out about their names. Perhaps the new birth announcement is trademarking your kid's name?

Call me a cynic, or a realist, but I’m positive that these celebrities will make a buck or two using their children’s names, for a clothing line, or baby products, or a line of granola bars. Trademarking a name doesn't always mean a person is planning to profit from it, but it keeps other people and businesses from trying to do so.

According to Gerben Law Firm, "Most people cannot secure a trademark registration for their personal names. Personal names can only be registered as trademarks if they have acquired what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refers to as "secondary meaning." Secondary meaning is when the name has become closely associated with a particular product or service, which can include an entertainment service such as singing. Celebrities can successfully seek trademark protection of their names to protect the financial integrity of their name as a brand."

Don’t get me wrong. I don't think anyone out there wants to profit off my children’s name. Not yet. Probably never. My five-year-old certainly doesn’t have a brand. Nor does my daughter. But in this world of ‘branding’ everything, isn’t it just good business to think ahead? There are no plans in the works for a ‘Holt and Rowan’ line of clothes, perfume, or strollers. In fact, there are no plans for what the hell we’re eating for dinner tonight. 

Still….you never know. What if one of my children does end up doing something exceptional? What if I, or my daughter, does want to come out, let's say, with a ‘Rowan’s waxing kit’ for teens?’ And what if my children want or need to have a domain name when they are adults? I may not have gotten my son the perfect e-mail address—I snoozed, I lost—but, thanks to me and thinking ahead, if my children want to start a business in their names or their own web page, I got them covered…hopefully for life. Why?

There's a litany of adult celebrities, who aren’t even parents, who have sued for seemingly silly reasons. Lady Gaga almost sued a London company from naming one of their ice cream flavours ‘Royal Baby Gaga,’ a few years ago. (As if no one else in the world has used, ‘Gaga’ when talking to their baby!) Even Sarah Palin, in 2011, who was a hot mess for a hot second, trademarked not only her name but her daughter Bristol's. She succeeded, and the duo’s trademark covered, 'education and entertainment services. Another young Sarah Palin out there told Time Magazine, ‘If I ever open up a business, I guess I could use my middle name. Sarah Beth Palin isn’t trademarked.’

Most parents have a difficult time coming up with the perfect name for their children. What's even harder? Getting them their own name, with their own handles, in the world of social media. Welcome to parenting in 2017.

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