Intellectual Property

Call It What You Want: Branding lessons from Taylor Swift

March 7, 2024

Many people are becoming tired of hearing about Taylor Swift after the Australian leg of her Eras Tour swept the country recently.  

But even non-Swifties should be able to appreciate her savvy and innovative approach to protection of her personal brand, which leaves no 'Blank Space'(s).

In this article, we look at how Taylor Swift protects her intellectual property and why her 'Fearless' approach will never go out of 'Style'.

Trade marks

Swift has an impressive global trade mark portfolio.  But it is the marks she applies for, and the goods and services protected, that set her approach apart.

In Australia, her IP company, TAS Rights Management, LLC, owns 28 registered trade marks and three pending trade mark applications.  It is a sound approach for brands to ensure that their IP is owned by an IP holding company (or at the very least, an entity which does not trade and has very limited exposure to litigation or financial risk), both in order to ensure that the IP is protected and for administrative purposes.

Apart from trade marks such as her name and her signature, there are also registrations protecting the following marks in Australia (among others):

  • SWIFTIES (word) and SWIFTIE (word), referring to her fans;
  • TAYLOR NATION (word), referring to her fan club;
  • the names of her albums, such as REPUTATION and FOLKLORE;
  • the names of her re-recorded albums (which we discuss further below), such as 1989 TAYLOR'S VERSION and RED TAYLOR'S VERSION; and
  • the name of her current world tour, TAYLOR SWIFT THE ERAS TOUR.

Interestingly, Swift owns registered trade marks protecting the names of her two planned, but currently unreleased, re-recorded albums, namely TAYLOR SWIFT TAYLOR'S VERSION and REPUTATION TAYLOR'S VERSION.  These trade mark applications appear to have been filed in June 2021, at the same time as her trade mark applications for the names of her other re-recorded albums.  This shows that Swift's team was conscious of ensuring that the titles of these albums were protected from very soon after she first started re-recording and releasing these albums (she released her first re-recorded album in April 20211 ).  A very 'Clean' approach to take!

Swift's earliest Australian trade mark registration, for TAYLOR SWIFT (word), covers goods such as music and video recordings in Class 9, clothing in Class 25 and entertainment services in Class 41.  However, since then, her portfolio has expanded to include further registrations for TAYLOR SWIFT (word) which cover goods including perfumes, jewellery, musical instruments, key chains, beverageware, stationary, bags and dolls and services such as retail services and educational services.  This ensures that third parties cannot use her name and 'Reputation' to offer similar goods and services.

The TAYLOR SWIFT THE ERAS TOUR trade mark registration not only covers musical recordings, entertainment services and clothing, but also includes goods such as towels and toys, which although are not sold as official tour merchandise, could reasonably be assumed to be sold under her brand.  Therefore, again we expect that Swift is seeking to ensure that others cannot profit from the use of her brand to sell unofficial merchandise.


As creator (or co-creator) of the lyrics and musical compositions of all of her songs, Swift owns the copyright subsisting in these.  However, copyright subsisting in the recordings of the songs on her first six albums was not owned by Swift, due to contractual arrangements, and was sold without her knowledge.

Therefore, Swift sought to re-claim these rights and decided to re-record the songs on these first six albums, and release the re-recorded versions as "Taylor's Versions" of the albums, with additional songs (known as "Vault Tracks") written at the time, but not released, included on the albums.

The re-recordings of the songs from her first six albums, although very similar to the original recordings, have (at times, subtle) differences in terms of production, Swift's voice has obviously matured, and she has also made some minor lyrical changes.

While it is likely that many recording labels would now seek to ensure that artists (particularly singer-songwriters) cannot re-record albums, by including clauses to this effect in agreements with artists, Swift's innovative approach to re-claiming ownership of her IP after losing her rights was 'Untouchable' and has ensured that she stands to benefit from her work.

Takeaways to remember 'All Too Well'

Although Swift may have a bigger brand protection budget than most, brand owners can still learn from her 'Mastermind' IP strategy.  Importantly, businesses should:

  • consider creating an IP holding company or a separate entity to own any IP;
  • consider filing trade mark applications early, to avoid third parties capitalising on their brand;
  • consider what goods and services are relevant, or may become relevant, to a mark when preparing a trade mark application;
  • where a brand has expanded into other areas, or offers different or new goods and services under existing marks, consider filing additional trade mark applications to cover those expanded goods/service offerings;
  • carefully review any agreements dealing with ownership of IP to ensure that third parties do not own any IP rights which could be used without the permission of the creator of the IP; and
  • seek advice from a qualified IP lawyer or trademark attorney when looking to protect their brand or commercialise their IP.

If you need assistance with brand protection or would like advice about your intellectual property strategy, please contact a member of Thomson Geer's Intellectual Property team.


Georgia Campbell | Senior Associate | +61 7 3338 7541 |

1 See

Download pdf
Recent posts

Keep learning