WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has filed an application to trademark his name with the UK's Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
The application was submitted by the Australian's London law firm, Finer Stephens Innocent, on 14th February, and covers the use of Assange's name in association with the activities of "Public speaking services; news reporter services; journalism; publication of texts other than publicity texts; education services; entertainment services".
The law firm applied for two further trademarks at the same time to protect the WikiLeaks name, in the classes of charitable fundraising, electronic publishing and web hosting.
Interestingly, none of these protect the use of Assange's name or image on merchandise such as T-shirts, which WikiLeaks currently sells to help cover its running costs.
Neither does it mean you'll soon be seeing Julian Assange™ or Julian Assange® - both of which refer to American trademark legislation. We'll be intrugued to see how US authorities handle any potential application from an organisation they accuse of carrying out illegal activities.
The IPO is due to publish Assange's application in its official Trademark Journal on 4th March, after which there will be a period of two months (sometimes extended to three) during which anyone can object if they think the trademark infringes their own. After this, the use of Assange's name will be protected by law.
It has become fairly common practice for celebrities to protect their image by trademarking their name or likeness - and given the adverse publicity Assange can expect if extradited to Sweden, following the failure of his first legal challenge, it may prove to be a wise move.