Digital Legacy Planning Tips for Parents, Courtesy of Beyoncé and JAY-Z
Unless you've been living under a rock or in one of the thirteen countries without internet access, you probably know that the Knowles/Carter family has been making headlines for all kinds of reasons lately. In May of this year, Forbes announced that Beyoncé and JAY-Z are officially worth a billion dollars. JAY-Z's 13th studio album, 4:44, was released with much fanfare and praise just a few days ago on the last day of June. A couple of weeks prior to this, he and Beyoncé also welcomed their new twins into the world (at least according to Matthew Knowles - the only member of the family who apparently can't keep his mouth shut).
I think we can all agree that the Knowles/Carter family seems to be having a great year.
Of course, questions remain for the curious public. What IS Tidal gonna do, fly or flop? Is this whole cheating thing for real or a brilliant business strategy, since apparently Beyoncé and JAY-Z made an estimated $200 million off of the rumors in 2016? And, for the love of all that is good and holy, what are the twins names??
At least regarding the last question, there may be some answers. According to TMZ, the new heirs to the throne are named Rumi Carter and Sir Carter. The celebrity news website deduced this information from three new trademark applications filed by Beyoncé's trademark holding company, BGK Trademark Holdings LLC, for RUMI CARTER and SIR CARTER.
The company actually owns nearly forty trademark applications and registered trademarks on Queen Bey's behalf:
People are assuming that Rumi and Sir must be the twins' names given the trademark applications' timing (a few days after their alleged birth), categories of products listed (baby items, among other things), and history (they did the same with the name BLUE IVY CARTER after their first daughter was born). Probably an accurate assumption. Most people don't go around filing random trademark applications for specific names. Welcome to the world, Rumi and Sir!
Beyoncé and JAY-Z have proven time and time again to be savvy business professionals. Clearly they are hoping to leave a legacy to their kids through these kinds of moves.
Are there lessons that other parents can take from all of this, even if we aren't (yet) billionaires or the most well-known celebrities on the planet? OF COURSE. Especially when it comes to digital legacy planning for your current and/or future kiddos. Here are three suggestions, based on what I imagine Beyoncé and JAY-Z have done given recent news reports:
#1. SET UP AN EMAIL ADDRESS WITH YOUR CHILD'S NAME
This is pretty much a no-brainer for me. Perhaps by the time today's babies are our age, email will have gone the way of the dinosaur and we will have moved on to holograms and eye scanning and who knows what. But, in the event that email will still have some legitimacy, it makes sense to go ahead and make an account for your child. It is free (today) and only takes moments to set up.
Why do this? Well, for starters, you can begin emailing your child as soon as you've determined what their name and/or email address will be. Perhaps there are funny stories during pregnancy that you'd like to share. Maybe you want to send a hilarious photo from their twelfth day of third grade that will otherwise get lost in your poorly-organized iCloud or Dropbox accounts. You might also ask grandma and grandpa to send your child emails or audio messages now while they are still alive and capable of doing so.
Once your child is old enough to read these emails (which could be years from now), they will probably appreciate the notes about events that might otherwise be lost to time and memory. In addition, you can reserve a professional-sounding email account for your child now, while competition may not exist (or be born) yet.
For tips on how to do this safely, check out Google's Family Link early access program for kids under 13. There are some additional suggestions from mommy blogger Julia Masson in the article How to create a safe and secure Gmail account for your child.
#2 CONSIDER PURCHASING THE DOMAIN NAME(S) BASED ON YOUR CHILD'S NAME
I know, I know. You might scoff at this suggestion. But, many internet experts suggest that everyone should own the digital asset that is a personal domain name.
In the case of Beyonce and JAY-Z, they actually ended up having problems with this after their first child, Blue Ivy Carter, was born. They announced her name to the world one day after she was born on January 8, 2012. Some enterprising individual registered the domain name www.blueivycarter.com on that same day, before her parents could. As attorney Patrice Perkins points out on her website, Beyonce and JAY-Z should have registered as many domain names as they could possibly think of before announcing her name.
The rest of the parents in the world may not have these kinds of considerations, but buying a domain name based on your child's name is worth thinking about. For reasons why this is generally important for everyone, check out Luvvie Ajayi's article, Why You Should Own Your Name's Custom URL and How to Buy It. College experts have also suggested that today's college students should own their own website. This advice will probably only become more critical with time.
If you've ever tried to purchase a domain name, you know that sometimes the good stuff is already taken. Imagine how many more domain names will be taken by the time your child needs one?? Purchasing their domain name now will probably cost you about $15 per year, at least as of 2017. This is a small price to pay to ensure that your child has access to a good domain name if/when they need it. And if they don't, you've made a minor investment.
#3 THINK ABOUT YOUR CHILD'S FUTURE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
So, this may be where most parents diverge from Beyoncé and JAY-Z when it comes to digital legacy planning (in addition to the m/billion dollar bank accounts). The purpose of trademark law is to distinguish people and companies from competitors selling stuff in the marketplace. For example, a white shoe may be indistinguishable without the word Adidas or Nike on it. It is understandable that people in the public eye wouldn't want others to trade off of the names of their kids.
Beyonce and JAY-Z have filed trademark applications for their own names and their children's names. Interestingly, the Carters have actually had some legal hurdles in this regard because a few other companies used the words BLUE IVY as trademarks before little Miss Carter's birth.
In the United States, you can only file a federal trademark application in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) if you are already using the trademark or have an intent to use the trademark in the future. You can't just place a trademark on reserve like you can with domain names. So, unless you're planning to sell stuff with your kid's name on it, you probably don't have trademark-related considerations.
BUT, if you are planning to use your child's name to sell products of services, think about filing an application with the USPTO. Especially if you think they will become very popular. You may end up with the most popular baby in the world, and you don't want anyone beating you to the punch and capitalizing on the success of the name before you do. This may sound ridiculous but the internet makes all things possible.
Case and point: Asahd Khaled, the eight-month old son of DJ Khaled. Asahd makes regular appearances on his dad's Snapchat account, boasts 1 million followers on Instagram, has been on Live with Kelly & Ryan, and performed at the 2017 BET Awards. I don't know if all of this was planned prior to his birth, but I don't think anyone could have predicted his meteoric rise to worldwide fame. This kid has even rung the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. AND kissed Rihanna.
But, Asahd's parents have not applied to trademark his name yet. Though he's only eight months old, I imagine deals and endorsements are in the works if they haven't already been inked. While the USPTO does have some protections in place to keep any-old-body from trademarking a person's name, the lines can get blurry quickly. It is worth it to beat others to the punch to protect against expensive potential conflicts.
In closing, I know that all of my suggestions may not apply to you. And, of course, privacy concerns abound when talking about memorializing your child's name and identity online. But, parents should think about how they are preparing for their child's digital future. You might save them from future headaches.
And, somebody tell DJ Khaled to call me. #ProtectAsahd