Palin on Palin: When a Politician Trademarks Your Name

Sarah Palin has trademarked her name. The former Alaskan governor submitted an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that is due to be approved within the next few weeks. When it is, Palin’s name will be trademarked for “educational and entertainment services” as well as “motivational speaking services in the field of politics, culture, business and values,” according to her patent applications. Her daughter Bristol, 20, has also trademarked her name for motivational speaking, but in the field of “life choices.”

But what happens when your name is also Sarah Palin? As it turns out, there’s a 20-year-old University of Texas at Austin junior with that very problem. For the past three years, the nutrition major from Heath, Texas, has been inundated with jokes, insults and emails intended for her more famous namesake. TIME talked to the young Sarah Palin about what it’s like to have the same name as a celebrity and whether she’s concerned that her name has been trademarked.

Do people ever write to you thinking that you’re her?
I still use my real name on my Facebook account. During the election I’d get hundreds of messages and friend requests every day from people who thought I was her. I still get them occasionally — maybe five or six a day — but it’s not that bad.

This past semester at school, I got a call from someone running in the student-council elections. They asked me to make a video endorsement for their campaign. You know, like “I’m Sarah Palin and I approve this message.” I was too busy at the time so I couldn’t do it.

How do you feel about her?
She seems like a good and decent person and she’s enthusiastic about what she does. But she doesn’t always sound very smart. Some of the things she says are hysterical. I don’t hate her and I don’t love her. I just share the same name with her.

Is your name ever a problem for you?
Whenever I fill out a form for the first time, the store clerk or receptionist or whoever will look at me like I’m being a jerk.


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