It was big news when Drake announced early Friday morning that his next album will be titled Certified Lover Boy. But while fans were watching for sports star cameos and marvelling at the Nike campus in his new video for “Laugh Now Cry Later,” a fascinating story about the title was playing out—one that involves The Boy, a “sensuous lingerie” company, and a Canadian rock band that’s working for the weekend.
Back in February, an attorney named Robert Kleinman filed a trademark application for the phrase “Certified Lover Boy.” The application named three possible uses for the phrase: music recordings; clothing; and television, movies, and live events.
So how does this connect to Drake? Kleinman wouldn’t comment when Complex reached out to him, but he has been the attorney for dozens of Drake-related trademark registrations, including the name “Drake” itself, which he helped the rapper lock down way back in 2009. He also assisted with Frozen Moments, the company Drake has recently used to license his music to Republic Records, as well as “Air Drake.” The technical owner of many of those trademarks is a company called “Common Sense Counsel IP Holdings”—Common Sense Counsel is Kleinman’s law firm—which is the same company that filed for “Certified Lover Boy.”
Normally, this kind of thing is smooth sailing. Drake, after all, has registered scores of trademarks for all sorts of businesses. But with “Certified Lover Boy,” things didn’t work out as planned. The application was denied this past April and, while the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office doesn’t comment on specific cases, their reasoning is clear in the paperwork. It was refused due to “likelihood of confusion.”
What that means is that there are other people who own trademarks that the USPTO believes could be confused with Drake’s. In particular, they cite two entities whose trademarks could be an issue. In one case, the Michigan clothing company Lover’s Lane (who offer the Best Sexy Clothes in Detroit, according to readers of the Metro Times), registered the trademark for the word “Loverboy” for garments like thongs, underwear, “leather wear,” and lingerie. For the trademark office, that was too close for comfort to Drake’s desire to stamp “Certified Lover Boy” on clothing (including undergarments, leggings, and yoga pants).
“[B]oth parties provide various clothing identical in part and otherwise closely related,” wrote USPTO trademark attorney Tamara Frazier. (Complex reached out to both Lover’s Lane and Frazier for comment, but they have not responded as of this writing).
The second reason for the Trademark Office’s decision is even more interesting. Drake’s attempt to use “Certified Lover Boy” for entertainment purposes could cause confusion with… Loverboy. That’s right, the Canadian rock band most famous for the 1981 hit single “Working for the Weekend.” The band Loverboy has had the trademark to their name since 1984, and, to judge by their website, they will still be rocking out at least through fall 2021, if not longer. An attempt to reach the band’s management was similarly unsuccessful.
So what does this mean? Well, Drake and Kleinman have a few options. They’ve got a six-month period from the time of refusal—that is, until October—to try again with a revised application. Or they could make a deal with Lover’s Lane and/or Loverboy and come up with what’s called a “consent agreement”—basically, a deal in which one party agrees to the registration of a trademark by a second party, even if the marks are similar.
None of this will prevent Drake from releasing his album, or even making merch with the title on it. Registering the trademark just provides additional legal protections against counterfeiters or in other types of litigation. But if you see a Drake cover of “Working for the Weekend” drop without warning one midnight, you’ll know why.