Stephen Hawking, the world's most famous theoretical physicist, has become the latest — and most unexpected — celebrity to apply for a trademark of their name.
Hawking, who is also a cosmologist and a best-selling author, made the decision, in order to give him some say over how and where his name is used in the public eye.
Alongside Brian Cox, a popular U.K. physicist and TV presenter, Hawking applied for a trademark earlier this month, through the UK's Intellectual Property Office.
According to an article in this weekend's Sunday Times, the two main reasons given as to why Hawking wants this trademark, is to prevent any exploitation of his name on inappropriate products, and for charitable and educational purposes.
Hawking's image has already appeared on t-shirts — including phrases such as "The Hawking Dead" and "Nerds with Attitude: Some thugs just want to watch the world learn" — as well as aprons, mugs, and mouse pads.
Primarily, the trademark is for 'charitable purposes', which could enable Hawking to set up his own foundation, dedicated to motor-neurone disease, which Hawking was diagnosed with (ALS) in 1963.
If successful, Hawking can decide how his name is used on goods, from postcards to educational books, according to the official document.
A spokesperson from Cambridge University, where Hawking has previously taught at, told The Sunday Times, that "it's a personal matter, it is not a university issue, but he has taken measures to protect his name and the success it has brought."
While Hawking's legacy has been continually praised over the past decades for his contribution to science, it is his recent ventures in the media's limelight which could have triggered links to trademarking his name.
In 2012, Stephen Hawking made his first appearance on the U.S. hit sitcom 'Big Bang Theory', and in 2014,'The Theory of Everything' - a biopic based on Hawking's early life (starring Eddie Redmayne) — grabbed international acclaim and a number of film awards.
As mentioned, trademarking is a hot topic. Alongside Hawking, many have gotten involved in trademarking certain names, such as J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, who took out several trademarks for characters named in the book series. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Jay Z applied for a trademark on their daughter's name, Blue Ivy Carter, back in 2012.
Additionally, U.S. politician, Sarah Palin successfully submitted an application to trademark her and her daughter Bristol's name in 2011, after previous application refusals earlier that year.
Birth names and company logos aren't the only trademark worth getting involved in. Catchphrases have been trademarked, such as Paris Hilton's "That's Hot" on alcohol and clothing, whilst NBA basketball player, Anthony Davis, told CNBC that he had trademarked "Fear the brow" in 2012, as he didn't want people to "try to grow a unibrow because of me and then try to make money off of it."
Michael Buffer, famous for his ring announcements in boxing during the 20th century, trademarked his catchphrase "Let's get ready to rumble" in 1992, which earned him more than $400 million by 2009, according to ABC News.