Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | May 17, 2012

Can You Be Sued For Simply Having A Name?

Well, in a bit of a shocking twist to copyright infringement, a romance author by the name of Adele Dubois was almost sued by Sony for copyright infringement simply because her first (legal) name happened to be shared by Adele the singer: A British pop star in England. According to the media, “Adele” apparently is trademarked–which makes any use of the name a violation of copyright law and subject to penalty.

Strangely enough, names can’t be copyrighted, only trademarked–but…it depends on the given name. But can you be sued for simply having a name like Stephen King and Lucille Ball?

Apparently so. Even Phil Collins and Michael Jackson can also be sued because such names can be found anywhere and they are more common sounding names than you realize. Even my own name isn’t unique.

Had my mom decided to name me Jermaine Jackson instead, I’d probably be the only white guy with this name, but at some point, I would be facing a bevy of lawsuits because my assumed name would be the same as the famous member of the Jackson Five.

Even anyone with the name ‘Michael Jackson’ would be facing intense scrutiny, because their names happen to coincide with the famous singer’s name. (And we all know how many times MJ had been sued over the course of his career–don’t we?)

One interesting case was that a woman unrelated to the famous TV star Lucille Ball was sued and taken to court for a full year before she was finally given permission to use her legal name for the same reasons.

A monumental headache for some who share coincidental names with famous people, but can never escape the injustice of the very same copyright laws that have been tasked to protect the rights and properties of entertainers and singers alike.

In Adele Dubois’s case, her situation ended on a happy note: The case against her was dropped after media outcry and public exposure to the incident and she’s happily blogging again–free to use her own legal name wherever she sees fit.



  1. Your mom should have named you jack ass. This post is stupid and you did very little research. Mainstream media is not research. Go pop some pimples on your ass, that is more along your skill level.

    • Someone having a bad day? It’s not like I dumped you like a bad habit or something. ^_^

  2. I had two dates with a boy with the surname “Ball”. I had over a hundred comments from people that if I married him, I would be “Lucille Ball” even though I am a “one l Lucile.” Since then he has been married three times. I am so grateful that the name warned me off!

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