GRO answer to my question regarding copyrighting your name

Sorry everyone I proof read this post several times and did not spot the glaring formatting error caused I believe by Notepad which did not carried over to WordPress to well, so apologies for that. Lesson learned do not copy from facebook straight to Notepad and onto wordpress it messes the formatting. I was also in a hurry to go out with my spouse which did not help as I really did not take the time to check the post once it had been posted to wordpress.

I have more questions to ask the GRO which I will be sending shortly and in full transparency I have to state that five of these questions did not come from myself but from a living man on face-book.

The following information was given to me on “face-book” about a rule known as “Blank forms rule” which at the time of sending my original email and follow up to the GRO I was ignorant of.

The “Blank forms rule is a principle of copyrights law that blank forms are not copyrightable.

Blank forms are not protected by copyright if they are designed for recording information but do not themselves convey any information. The blank forms rule, first articulated in

Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (U.S. 1880), is codified at 37 C.F.R. § 202.1(c) (1982).

Although blank forms are generally not copyrightable, there is a well-established exception where text is integrated with blank forms. Where a work consists of text integrated with blank forms, the forms have explanatory force because of the accompanying copyrightable textual material.

[Bibbero Systems, Inc. v. Colwell Systems, Inc., 893 F.2d 1104, 1106-1107 (9th Cir. Cal. 1990)]”

Now this is US Law but we have determined that the Birth Certificate system is not confined to UK and it therefore follows that the same copyright law applies. Therefore, they are not copyrighting the blank certificate per se.

I made enquiries of the Registrar and they said they were registering the “event”. If that is indeed the case, then the information contained within the document is what is copyrighted because it is clear the blank form cannot be.

The Registrars are very selective in the precise wording they use but fundamentally if you took a blank birth certificate you can clearly see it is designed for recording information and in and of itself it does not convey information. On that basis, I am satisfied that the information contained within the birth certificate, once completed, is copyrighted.

Here is a list of questions numbered 1 to 10 that I am going to send to the GRO in a short while, these are hard questions so it is entirely possible that they will not be answered.

  1. Please can you show me the law/act/ or statute that obliges all living men and women to have a name?
  2. Where is it stated in any law/act/ or statute that a name must be registered?
  3. What is the worst that can happen if a name is not registered with the local Registrar’s Office or indeed any Registrar’s Office in the UK?
  4. If parents cannot by their own free choice take the decision to register the product of their union in the system then we are not free, true or false?
  5. If the Birth Certificate is merely a recording of the event and you are only ever entitled to copies of the recorded information which in and of themselves cannot be altered, who owns the copyright to the original information that was recorded with the Office of the Registrar General?
  6. Can the original information be removed from the Register?
  7. If you use the certificate for ID purposes such as National Insurance Number, Driving Licence and/or Passport does this correlate with the warning?
  8. What are the ramifications of not heeding the warning and does this affect my status?
  9. Does it mean my National Insurance Number, Passport and Driving licence were obtained fraudulently?
  10. Can I in any way reverse the status by my revoking all administration obtained with ID via Birth Certificate which held this warning?


——-Below is the email received from the GRO ——


Dear name omitted,

I am not sure about trademark law. If you were seeking to use a name as a trademark (and how you would go about that) I can’t really advise.

However, in terms of the use of names for birth registrations, a name cannot be copyrighted or trademarked – that is, someone else is free to come along and choose the same name to be recorded in a birth entry without being in breach of any copyright. So, for example, parents may choose to name their child Harvey Nichols or Laura Ashley, despite the fact that there are companies out there trading under those names.

Some people, if they decide to be known by a name other than that recorded in their birth registration, decide to take out a Deed Poll and lodge this with the Supreme Court of Deeds at the Royal Courts of Justice. But this only provides a record that person A is now known by this new name (and preserves a documentary link between the former and the new name). It does not copyright or trademark the name concerned.

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes

Name omitted
GRO/LRS Engagement manager
Civil Registration

Her Majesty’s Passport Office, General Register Office
Room 205, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road,  Southport  PR8 2HH
email address omitted

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