Edward Snowden; you can hardly turn on the news or check out a newspaper without seeing his face plastered across some headline. His has become a household name, not just in the United States but around the world. With this kind of name recognition, it is only a matter of time before some entity or business tries to capitalize off of it and this is exactly what is happening in China.
An application for the name “Snowden” was submitted last week by electric car company Hong Yuan Lan Xiang in China. The application seeks to trademark “Snowden” in both English and Chinese and looks as if the name would be applied to innovative technology for electric cars that the company may be debuting later this year; however it could take over a year for the trademark application to be approved and it may be an uphill battle at that.
Although there are already a number of trademarks for “Snowden” in China (multiple registrations for the same names are allowed for different product ‘categories’), they were approved prior to Edward Snowden’s rise to fame, or better yet, infamy. The Chinese government is likely to deny the current application as it may me deemed too “political” at this juncture. Believe it or not, China is not the only country facing the decision of granting a trademark application concerning Snowden.
Numerous applications to register Snowden’s image have been filed in Russia and it may make more sense at this point for Russian businessmen to capitalize on Snowden due to the fact that he has been granted asylum there for the next year. Should any or all of these Russian applications be granted, Snowden could challenge his image’s commercial use as “celebrities” often do this to control the use of their personality in commercials or other endorsements.
This should be an interesting story to follow and to see if there are any repercussions with US relations should China grant the “Snowden” trademark. It should also prove interesting to see if any other companies follow suit trademarking Snowden in some way around the world. While Snowden remains a wanted man by the US government and as additional NSA information is leaked to the media, he only stands to become more and more well known and recognizable and while I’m not sure he would be someone I would want to associate with my business, his name and image does bring some degree of controversy that is memorable.