How a “House of Bonang” can house its IP

As most of you already know, Bonang Matheba, one of South Africa’s leading media personalities, launched her own range of sparkling wine (MCC) called “HOUSE OF BNG” on Monday, 18 March 2019.

Many celebrities embark on the extension of their brands by venturing into various industries i.e. Pearl Thusi’s “BLACK PEARL” hair product range, DJ Zinhle’s “ERABYDJZINHLE” collection of watches and Cassper Nyovest’s “THE FAMILY TREE” clothing store.

Whilst these are amazing endeavours it also creates an opportunity for fans, and the like, to ride on celebrities’ coattails by infringing on their intellectual property (IP) rights embedded in their respective ventures.

There is a bouquet of IP rights that celebrities can use to maintain control over their brand and regulate how their brand is used by others.

Trade marks

Trade marks are often a celebrity’s most valuable asset. Trade marks help to distinguish your brand from other brands. A trade mark can be a name, signature, logo, sound, smell, shape; container or a combination of one or more of these.

Trade mark rights can be obtained through registration and will allow you to prevent third parties from using your brand (trade mark) without your permission, in perpetuity, provided you renew the registration every 10 years.

Domain names

A domain name is an internet address to a website. Whilst domain names are a separate right from trade marks, they tend to infringe on the rights of a trade mark owner. We recommend that owners of trade marks remain on the lookout for unauthorised use of a registered trade mark via domain names which may amount to “abusive domain names”, and that they register a domain name corresponding with their trade marks. There are also a plethora of domain name extensions to choose from, starting with generic domain extensions such as the sought after “.com”, industry specific domain name extensions such as (and the list is virtually endless) “.wine” and “. fashion”, and country and region specific extensions, such as “.africa”, and “.co.za”.

Copyright

Copyright is an exclusive right which protects original works of authorship, such as sound recordings, musical works, published works, literary works and artistic works.

Copyright exists automatically in the material expression of creative ideas, provided that certain requirements are met. It is not possible to register copyright in South Africa, except in the case of films.

As copyright is a multi-faceted field of intellectual property law, it is recommended that you approach an IP attorney to assess whether your work is eligible for copyright protection.

Designs

Registered designs protect the appearance of a product i.e. the well-known Louis Vuitton and Hermes patterns on clothing items. A registered design entitles one to preclude others from copying and/or selling items embodying your registered design.

In conclusion, before you launch your exciting venture, it is advisable to consult with an IP attorney on the best way to protect your brand from being used and abused by the public at large, and to optimize the commercialisation of your brand in order to profit from it.

The greater the bouquet of IP rights you obtain, the more it will deter copycats from infringing on your IP rights, which could ultimately tarnish the brand you have worked so hard for.