What's in a name? A copyright

August 21, 2003 12:00 am

By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

Glenn Leon Turner Jr., is among the first local residents to try copyrighting his name.

The Del Norte County man has paid to print a public notice on four different days spanning four weeks declaring that no one may display or otherwise use his common-law trademark name. And if anyone does use it for profitable gain, Turner's notice says he will levy damages of at least $500,000.

Turner and an avalanche of other Californians are filing copyright notices under a recent change in the Uniform Commercial Code, a federal and state code allowing businesses to copyright their identities.

They are doing it for a number of reasons, including attempting to get out of paying bills, according to county and state officials.

But that doesn't apply to Turner, he said. In fact, he said he didn't even know that it was possible to get out of debt by copyrighting his name.

He said he is copyrighting his name and every derivation of it "so no one else can use (the) name for profit."

In his philosophy, every time someone cashes a paycheck, that person is using his or here own name as a business name for profit.

It will still be OK to use Turner's name for other reasons, he said. For example, Turner said he thinks someone could still name a child Glenn Leon Turner Jr., because that would be the child's name and not his.

For those who copyright their names to try to avoid paying debtors, the strategy won't stand up in court, a state official said.

In essence, by filing a copyright of a personal name under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), the filer is declaring himself both a debtor and a "secured party" of the debt. By declaring both, the filer is technically cancelling out any property owned or debts owed, according to a representative supervisor of the California Secretary of State's Office named Robert.

"It's not normal. We've been getting a rash of filings. We call them bogus filings. I don't think it would stand up in court," he said.

Del Norte County clerk-recorder Vickie Frazier said the code is only meant for businesses, not individuals.

"It records your identification name and number and separates it from other businesses that may be breaking the law or getting in debt," said Frazier.

According to the Secretary of State's Office, the state legislature passed new rules that recording offices must accept the filings and record them without reviewing the legality of it.

"Prior to that, we would review the information submitted and determine if it should be rejected," the Secretary of State's Office said.