More and more celebrity file trademark applications for brands named after them.
The celebrity with the most trademark applications in his name is comedian and TV host Lee Kyung-kyu, according to the Korean Intellectual Property Office.
According to a data compiled by KIPO from 1998 to 2008, there were 27, but in 2009 the number rose to 11 and last year to 22. So far this year, 12 names of celebrities have been filed for a trademark.
The names of comedians topped the list with 58 different brands or 67 percent of the total, followed by actors with 23 brands and singers with five. Eleven brands are named after Lee. Next is fellow comedian and TV host Joo Byung-jin (nine brands), and Kang Ho-dong (eight brands). Since 2010, comedian Kim Byung-man, who became famous for his various acrobatics on TV, has become a formidable new force with seven brands.
Food products account for the bulk of brands named after stars with 41 cases (48 percent) followed by 25 restaurant franchises (29 percent). There were five Internet shopping malls and four cosmetics lines.
KIPO attributed the surge to a widening quest among entertainers to seek other sources of income and the marketing strategies of major franchise companies seeking to tap into their popularity. "The reason why there are so many comedians associated with brands is because consumers tend to feel more familiar with them, which makes them more appealing for product endorsements," a KIPO official said.