In September 2021, after English tennis player Emma Raducanu completed a sensational underdog victory at the U.S. Open, various outlets reported that she had applied to trademark her own name in the U.K.
For example, on Sept. 16, the British tabloid The Sun published an article with the headline "Emma Raducanu on way to becoming a £1 BILLION athlete as she applies for her own trademark."
The Daily Mail, for its part, reported that:
Emma Raducanu trademarked her name within hours of her US Open win in her first steps to becoming the ‘first billion-dollar sports woman’. UK-based lawyer Anthony Brierley applied to safeguard the words 'Emma Raducanu', 'Emma' and 'Raducanu' shortly after the 18-year-old's victory, reports The Sun.
Those reports were false. The U.K. trademark application in question was filed by Anthony Brierley, a patent attorney in Yorkshire, who has confirmed that the application was not connected to Raducanu herself. Furthermore, Brierley had already withdrawn his trademark application by Sept. 14 — two days before The Sun, the Daily Mail, and others falsely reported that Raducanu herself had applied to trademark her own name.
The day after Raducanu's victory at the U.S. Open, Brierley submitted a UK Intellectual Property Office application on Sept. 12 to trademark the following terms: "Raducanu," "Emma Raducanu," and "Emma." The trademark application was made in connection with three categories of commercial goods: cosmetics, stationery, and clothing:
On Sept. 14, Brierley withdrew his application — two days before the publication of the news articles highlighted above, meaning those reports referred to a trademark application that was no longer active, and they therefore did not become outdated or inaccurate due to unforeseen events that took place after publication but were inaccurate at the time they were published.
Furthermore, Brierley's application never had any connection with Raducanu herself. Speaking to World Trademark Review, a London-based publication that focuses on trademark issues, Brierley confirmed his application was not made at her behest.
Several other individuals also have applied for U.K. trademarks related to Raducanu's name, including one filed on the day of her U.S. Open victory, which sought to trademark the phrases "Radu can do," "Radu-Can-Do" and "RaduCanDo.com." Another individual applied, on Sept. 14, to trademark the word "raducando," and on Sept. 16, someone else applied to trademark "Emma Raducanu" among other phrases.
The individuals behind those trademark applications do not appear to have any personal or professional connection to Raducanu, based on preliminary research, but we can't yet rule out the possibility that they were acting on her behalf. Snopes asked Raducanu's representatives for clarification, but we did not receive a response in time for publication.
It should also be noted that, if she hasn't already, Raducanu might very well attempt to trademark her own name in the U.K. and in other countries in the near future, as one trademark expert told World Trademark Review:
Achieving such financial success will require many elements outside of on-court victories – including effective brand protection. Talking to WTR, Lee Curtis, chartered trademark attorney and partner at HGF, says that “registered trademark registration will be key in leveraging the potential that brand ‘Emma Raducanu’ has become almost overnight”, adding: “Trademark registrations for her name increases the ability to control who uses that name and increases the potential of securing lucrative licensing deals ..."
However, the Sept. 12 application by Yorkshire attorney Anthony Brierley, which formed the basis of a wave of news reports, was certainly not filed at Raducanu's behest, was withdrawn two days later and, as a result, those articles were wildly inaccurate.