by Goeun Son
Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty runs a makeup company, “Fenty Beauty”. Currently, “Fenty Beauty” and “Fenty Beauty by Rihanna” are registered under trademark. Forbes estimated that she banked $12 million in 2017 (one-third of her pre-tax earnings that year) from her fashion ventures. She has been rolling as a singer and a business woman.
In 2017, when her beauty business made a huge success, her father Ronald Fenty founded “Fenty Entertainment”, which was also named after the last name. Then Rihanna sued her father for allegedly trying to use her “Fenty” trademark without her permission. Even though “Fenty” is her family’s last name, she argues that by lying to investors about her involvement in Fenty Entertainment, he tried to solicit millions of dollars from third parties in exchange for the false promise that they were authorized to act on Rihanna’s behalf, and/or that Rihanna would perform at various locations throughout the world. In other words, without permission, he tried to exploit Rihanna’s name, her intellectual property or the goodwill associated with her well-known ‘Fenty’ brand, or to solicit any business on her behalf.
Will Rihanna get a court to prevent his father from using her brand name? I doubt it. Even if the court would not allow him to use “Fenty”, he might be still able to use the current business name or his full name, Ronald Fenty. Just a reminder, Rihanna didn’t register “Fenty” alone. Also, because her father’s business is not related to makeup products, he may be required to clarify that he has no affiliation with the brand “Fenty Beauty”.
It is understandable that Rihanna is concerned that potential customers could be misled if a family member uses an already established trademark for an unaffiliated entity. Because trademark protection gives individual producers an exclusive right to access the consumer goodwill that attaches to a particular word or symbol, usurping her company name means providing her father to enjoy her brand value and her company’s reputation. Although Fenty Entertainment might soon be Ronald Fenty Entertainment with legal disclaimers that the company has no affiliation with Rihanna, she would not be happy about it.
Lerae Funderburg, Esq. is the Managing Attorney at Funderburg Law, LLC, an Atlanta based entertainment law firm. Lerae has almost 10 years of experience in entertainment law in both music law and film law. As an entertainment lawyer and blogger, Lerae keeps her viewers and subscribers up to date with entertainment law news, especially in the areas of music, copyright law and trademark law. If you are local to Atlanta, call and set up a consultation! She would love to hear from you!