Trademarks and your Side Hustle - 10 Quick Ideas


Trademarks and Your Side Hustle

10 Quick Ideas

by Susan Basko, esq.

You may be planning a small business for your retirement or as a side hustle now.  Trademarks are a backbone of a solid small business.  Here are some basics to know:

1. A trademark is a word (or set of words) or an image or a word and image combination that lets the potential buyers know the source of goods or services.  A trademark is often the name of a company or the name of a product (goods) or service that is sold by a company.  

2. A trademark can be real personal. It can even be your own name or your pen name, DJ name, music name, or the name under which you make jewelry, bake cakes, babysit, or mow lawns.  

3. Marijuana-related services and goods cannot get U.S. registered trademark.  That's because, while the sale of marijuana is legal in many states, it is still illegal federally.  If you apply for a trademark for a marijuana-related service or goods, the US Trademark Office will make "inquiries" of you.  It does not matter what you reply, because the Trademark Office in the end will deny your registration.  Period.  Selling terra cotta pots?  You can get a trademark?  Selling pot? No trademark.  Don't waste your time or money.

4. Work with a lawyer on choosing your business name and the names of your goods or services BEFORE you settle on a name.  That's because you want a name that can be registered as a trademark.  Do not sink your time and money into a name that you will have to change.

5. Merely descriptive. Trademark registrations are refused for being "merely descriptive."  "French Bakery" will be rejected by the Trademark Office if it is for a bakery selling French pastries.  However, if "French Bakery" is the name of a perfume, it might be accepted.

6. Geographic names will be rejected if they describe the location of the business.  "Mildred Street Saloon" will be rejected if it is a saloon on Mildred Street. However, it might possibly be able to go on the Supplemental Register.

7. Geographic names that show the source of origin are tricky.  There are rules for source of origin of things such as cheeses, beers, and wines and spirits.  You should absolutely work with a lawyer from the get-go on any of these.  The rules are complex.  For example, a mark that names the geographic origin of wines or spirits will be rejected as being geographic.  On the other hand, a trademark that incorrectly names or implies that wines or spirits are from a geographic region will also be rejected.  If a geographic terms is considered generic for those goods or services, it might be allowed, but disclaimed.  For possible example, the word "Burgundy" is a geographic location, but is also a generic term for a type of red wine, so a trademark such as "Parasol Burgundy," might be allowed, with the word "Burgundy" disclaimed in the application.  Wines and spirits from a geographic location might be better suited to getting a certificate of origin, which is a process different than a trademark.  This is all very tricky and not a do-it-yourself activity.

8. Your trademark cannot conflict with already-existing or already-pending trademarks for the same Class of goods or services.  They don't have to be the exact same goods or services -- just in the same Class.  For example, leather goods are a Class. If someone has already registered a trademark for Pashmina Wallets, you are not likely to be allowed to register a trademark for Pashimina Belts.  

As another example, a trademark for a company that sells drones will be registered as goods.  A trademark for a company that performs searches or photography or inspections via drones is a service.  As it happens, these two are in different Classes.  However, it is not likely a conflicting word mark would be allowed, even though these are different classes, because they both involve drones.  So it is not likely a trademark examiner will allow Skyway as a drone seller if there already exists Skyway as a drone photography service. 

9. A trademark will often be considered to conflict with an existing trademark if they have one of the same words in the mark, even if the whole trademark is not the same.  The two marks may conflict if they are spelled similarly, but not exactly the same.  Alternative spellings may conflict.  Let's say a trademark is Campus Capers.  An alternate spelling of Kampus Kapers for a same or similar class of goods or services will be considered a conflict and the trademark will not likely be allowed. 

10.  TRADEMARK IS NOT A DO-IT-YOURSELF ACTIVITY.  I register trademarks.  To succeed in registering a trademark, I take a lot of time with the initial search and the choice of trademark.  I counsel the clients on whether the registration is likely to succeed.  If it is not likely to succeed, then the person should choose a different trademark, unless they want to take their chance and be willing to risk their money on a possible rejection.  I spend a lot of time on choosing the proper specimen (sample of the trademark in use) to accompany the application.  The overwhelming vast majority of trademark applications fail.  It takes about a year for a trademark application to go DEAD.  If you want to succeed and end out with a registered trademark, do not try to do-it-yourself.  

Drones: Basic Federal Law

                                                  Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Drones: Basic Federal Law
By Susan Basko, esq.

Drones equipped with cameras or other sensors are really popular now as a fun hobby or as a business venture.  This article is to let the readers know the basic federal law regarding drone ownership and usage.

Drones are also known as UAVs, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAS, Unmanned Aerial Systems.  More commonly they are just called drones.  Drones can be used by hobbyists to get fun aerial shots.  They can also be used by organizations to survey land, search for a missing person, or make a video to promote a school or park.  Professional drone businesses use unmanned aerial systems, which may have different types of sensors on them, to inspect oil fields and oil rigs, storage tanks, water towers, cell towers, building sites, roofs, etc.  Any inspection job where you need to see the top of anything, a drone can be a great tool.  Most drones send video to a computer on the ground, where it is analyzed and reports made for the client.  

The basic law regarding drones comes from the Federal Aviation Administration, of FAA.  Although States and cities may have local drone laws, the basic laws that all drone owners and users in the U.S. must follow come from the FAA.

There are 3 basics in current federal drone law:
  • 1) Do you need to register your drone?
  • 2) Do you need to be licensed to operate a drone?
  • 3) Does your drone need to be able to communicate its identification?
VERY LIGHTWEIGHT DRONE USED ONLY FOR RECREATIONAL PURPOSE -- DO NOT NEED TO REGISTER.  ALL drones must be registered unless they weigh under .55 pounds or less (under 250 grams) AND if they are flown ONLY under the Exception for Recreational Flyers.  Recreational Flyers are those who are not flying for any organizational or business purpose.  

DRONE OVER .55 POUNDS and up to 55 POUNDS  -- MUST REGISTER.  (THOSE WITH drones over 55 pounds must contact the FAA directly.) You register your drone with the FAA at the Drone Zone.  THIS IS THE LINK TO THE DRONE ZONE:

Registration costs $5 and is valid for 3 years. You'll need a credit or debit card and the make and model of your drone handy in order to register.  

Create an account and register your drone at Select "Fly sUAS under Part 107."
Once you've registered, mark your drone (PDF) with your registration number in case it gets lost or stolen.

YES, If your drone is between .55 pound (half pound) and up to 55 pounds, AND if you operate it for an organization or business, you need to get your Remote Pilot Certificate.

 Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test

To be eligible to get your Remote Pilot Certificate, you must be:

  • At least 16 years old
  • Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS

Study for the Knowledge Test
Review Knowledge Test Suggested Study Materials provided by the FAA.

Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN)
Create an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile prior to registering for the knowledge test.

Schedule an Appointment
Take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.

Complete FAA Form 8710-13
Once you've passed your test, for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) login the FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)* to complete FAA form 8710-13.

Review the full process to get your Remote Pilot Certificate.


Yes, drones must now have Remote ID.  There are several ways to meet the requirements.

What is Remote ID?

Remote ID is the ability of a drone in flight to provide identification and location information that can be received by other parties.

Why Do We Need Remote ID?

Remote ID helps the FAA, law enforcement, and other federal agencies find the control station when a drone appears to be flying in an unsafe manner or where it is not allowed to fly. Remote ID also lays the foundation of the safety and security groundwork needed for more complex drone operations.

There are three ways drone pilots will be able to meet the identification requirements of the remote ID rule:

  • Operate a Standard Remote ID Drone (PDF) that broadcasts identification and location information about the drone and its control station. A Standard Remote ID Drone is one that is produced with built-in remote ID broadcast capability in accordance with the remote ID rule's requirements.
  • Operate a drone with a remote ID broadcast module (PDF). A broadcast module is a device that broadcasts identification and location information about the drone and its take-off location in accordance with the remote ID rule's requirements. The broadcast module can be added to a drone to retrofit it with remote ID capability. Persons operating a drone with a remote ID broadcast module must be able to see their drone at all times during flight.
  • Operate (without remote ID equipment) (PDF) at FAA-recognized identification areas (FRIAs) sponsored by community-based organizations or educational institutions. FRIAs are the only locations unmanned aircraft (drones and radio-controlled airplanes) may operate without broadcasting remote ID message elements.

Much of this information is taken from the FAA website on UAS.  Please go there to read more detailed information.  This blog post is a basic summary.  You will need to learn so much more to become a drone pilot.  

TRADEMARKS:  If you are starting a drone business, it's a good idea to protect the name of your business with a registered trademark.  I am a lawyer who registers trademarks, and I recently applied for a trademark for a drone business.  This gave me reason to spend a lot of time searching the trademark database for drone trademarks.  There are two basic categories -- businesses that sell drones as goods, and businesses that run a drone service, such as drone photography, drone inspection, drone search, etc.  You will want to get in with a good drone business name before the best ones are all registered by someone else.  The success of your business can hinge on having a good professional trademarked name.

Good News from the Trademark Office


Good News from the Trademark Office

by Susan Basko, esq.

Today, the U.S.Trademark Office sent out the good news below that one of the scammers who has bilked thousands of trademark applicants and holders out of millions of dollars has been arrested. The sad news is that there are many more such scammers.  The good news is that the U.S. Department of Justice has finally gotten serious about taking down these persistent frauds.

The way these scams work is that after a person applies for a trademark, they start receiving very realistic-looking bills via U.S. mail, email, or text.  The bills claim to be from the Trademark Office, and are for random amounts in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.  Many people have been fooled into paying recurring monthly bills.  There are no such fees or services required by the U.S. Trademark Office.  

Most of the people who get roped into paying these fake bills are do-it-yourself trademark applicants or those who use those scammy website things.  If they were working with a real lawyer, the lawyer would remind them the bill is fake.  It is ironic that people who skimp on legal fees by doing it themselves then go and pay thousands of dollars in fake fees. 

Developments on fraudulent solicitations 

This week, the United States Department of Justice announced that Viktors Suhorukovs, a citizen of Latvia, was sentenced to more than four years in federal prison and ordered to pay over $4.5 million in restitution after pleading guilty to mail fraud in a multi-million-dollar scheme to defraud owners of U.S. trademark registrationsSuhorukovs established and operated Patent and Trademark Office, LLCand Patent and Trademark Bureau, LLC. These entities gave the false impression that they were, in fact, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), scamming more than 2,900 U.S. trademark registrants out of millions of dollars for inflated, and often fake, renewal fees.  

This is one of many schemes that confuse and defraud owners of U.S. registrations with solicitations that are intended to look like official USPTO correspondence. These schemes often falsely promise to take required maintenance actions on behalf of the registration owner, or they scam registrants into paying for services they don’t need.

We have worked hard to fight these solicitations and assist law enforcement in cases like Suhorukovs'. Learn more about our ongoing efforts to combat scams on our website. 

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Sorry folks, Feedburner is turning off its Subscribe by Email feature.  This little blog somehow accumulated over a thousand subscribers.  Sorry, you won't be getting this in your email in the future.  I would like to replace it, and there seems to be a substitute, but I am not convinced of its safety and privacy.  When I figure something out, I hope you will swing on by and subscribe again.  

Thanks for being a lovely loyal reader,

My love to you,

Susan 🌻

Trademark Scams Aplenty

Trademark Scams Aplenty

by Susan Basko, esq.

Trademark scams are harming the work of the U.S. Trademark Office, as well as harming legitimate Trademark lawyers, and duping and defrauding trademark applicants. If you want to apply for a trademark, how can you spot a scam?  This is fairly easy -- if you are using an automated service, instead of a trademark lawyer, you have probably been taken in by a scam.  If you are not conferring directly with a real live licensed lawyer, it is probably a scam.  If it appears to cost too little, it is probably a scam.  If it arrives in the mail demanding money, it is definitely a scam.  Below, we will look at a few of the biggest trademark scam/ fraud situations going right now.  

First, I recently received this Alert from the U.S. Trademark Office.  

Trademark Alert.  U.S. lawyers: Beware of solicitations asking to use your bar credentials

The USPTO recently learned that U.S. attorneys are again receiving emails from unlicensed individuals offering to pay to use the attorney's bar credentials in trademark filings  These solicitations are a direct attempt to circumvent the U.S. counsel rule.

Although we believe that only a small percentage of practitioners are engaging in this practice, the USPTO would like to remind U.S. attorneys that such an arrangement would likely be aiding the unauthorized practice of law and also a violation of federal rules, including the USPTO's Rule of Professional Conduct, 37 C.F.R. Part 11.

Scams can adversely impact the integrity of the trademark register.  If you receive a solicitation asking to use your bar credentials, please forward it to

Explained: The US Trademark Office requires any foreign entity to hire a U.S. lawyer to conduct any work with the U.S. Trademark Office, including trademark applications and the certification process.  In addition, the U.S. Trademark Office only allows licensed U.S. lawyers to represent any other person or entity before the Trademark Office.  There are non-lawyers who engage in trademark registration scams -- and thus, they try to "borrow" credentials from lawyers.  However, as you can note in the warning above, any lawyer agreeing to this is likely to lose their law license and possibly face criminal charges.  

ANOTHER HUGE TRADEMARK SCAM involves automated websites that claim to be registering trademarks for people, often at unrealistically low prices.  This whole practice started several years ago, and this is how it works:  Only a U.S.-licensed lawyer can register a trademark for any other person or company,  So, these automated websites claim that it is the applicants themselves who are registering their own trademark.  But, this makes no sense.  Trademark registration is a process that takes at least a year, and involves interaction with the trademark examiner.  These trademark website scams also usually charge unrealistically low prices.  The registration fee itself is $250 - $350 per class of goods or services.  On top of that, there is the work of a trademark lawyer for at least a year.  So, when you do a google search and up top are listings for companies charging $49, $59 or $69 for trademark registration, you know it is a scam.  It could not possibly cost that low when the required application fee itself is several hundred dollars.

I saw one trademark scam ad touting a "Turnaround Time of 72 Hours." This is not even slightly possible.  After filing an application, it waits for about 4 months to be assigned to a Trademark Examiner. In 72 hours, the application may (or may not) show up on the USPTO Database as "LIVE."  "Live" is used to denote trademarks that are in the application process that have not yet been declared DEAD, as well as those that have been successfully registered.  Perhaps the Trademark Office should make a different designation for trademark applications that are still in the application process -- for example, "Application Pending."  Referring to fraudulent trademark applications as "LIVE" facilitates that fraud.  The scam companies can send their customers a fake trademark certificate and point to their trademark on the USPTO database with the word "LIVE" next to it.  If the scam company takes no further action on a doomed application, as things are now run at the USPTO, that "LIVE" designation will remain for a year.  That feeds the fraud and enables it.  

Tim Lince of World Trademark Review did an absolutely brilliant investigative journalism piece on these trademark scam companies.   Muhammad Burhan Mirza of Digitonics Lab was arrested for running many of these trademark websites.  He and nine others were charged with fraud and money-laundering for running sites that claimed to be doing trademark registration, logo creation, ghostwriting services, etc.  

One of the many fraud websites was one called  Obviously, that name would fool a lot of people into believing it was legit.  "The website (‘’) uses the USPTO’s logo and colour scheme, while its About Us page claims to be “a project initiated by experienced lawyers and technologists” with “12 years of experience”." The website claims to be in "San Jose, California," but the operators were arrested in Pakistan.  How did it work?  They simply sent fake Trademark certificates to the applicants. "Even more concerningly, the report alleges that the company gave around 70% to 75% of clients “fake/fabricated” USPTO trademark certificates as part of the scam." 

Despite the flurry of arrests and allegations of fraud and extortion against these websites, some of them are still online to this day, such as USPTO Trademarks, a screen shot taken just now, shown below.  The entirety of U.S. Intellectual Property law is at stake -- at this juncture, the U.S. needs to step up and shut down these kind of scams with the same ferocity it uses to shut down kiddie porn sites.  Look at the site below-- could you blame people for being tricked into thinking this was legit?  


The U.S. Trademark Office has many times stated that it is not within their allowed activities to engage in prosecution of frauds or scams -- though the office does cooperate fully with authorities.  

This proliferation of scams harms the public, as well as harming the USPTO.  The only solution I can see that would work would be to require every trademark application to be filed by a licensed attorney and to have that attorney vouch for the legitimacy of the application and of his or her intent to conduct the full application process.  Federal courts require this of lawyers filing lawsuits.  It is time to do this with trademarks.  The trademark office is inundated with thousands of these fraudulent trademark applications, according to a follow-up article by Tim Lince of World Trademark Review (WTR).  In February of 2021, World Trademark Review published a list of the trademark applications made by 6 of these companies.  There are 81 pages of these trademark applications, with about 27 listed on each page!  The list gives the status of each application. Applying for a trademark is a process that takes at least a year and has various phases to it.  

If an application is going to fail, it usually takes at least a year from the date of filing for it to go DEAD on the USPTO database.  That's because a trademark application is filed and then sits for about 4 months waiting to be assigned to an Examiner.  If the Examiner issues a Nonfinal Office Action, the applicant is given 6 months to file a response.  If no response is filed or an incomplete or unsatisfactory response is filed, as would often be the case with an application not being tended to by a trademark lawyer, then it will go dead, usually several months after the 6 months deadline.  This means that applications destined to fail are on the USPTO Trademark Database as "LIVE" for about a year.  This harms and affects applicants who are trying to register trademarks that may conflict with the trademarks on the doomed applications -- their applications will be  put on hold to wait for the earlier-filed application to clear or go DEAD.  

This massive influx of trademark applications not properly made causes a huge amount of needless work for Trademark Examiners.  The Examiners are required to respond to each application as if it were legit.  Recently, however, the Trademark Office created a rule that short-circuits some of this.  The office has begun requiring an email address of the applicant.  The fraudulent companies have been in the practice of supplying their own email, probably to keep the applicant from finding out their application is not being handled properly.  After all, if a company is sending fake Trademark Certificates to 75% of its customers, the company does not want its customers in contact with the Trademark Office, where they may be alerted to the scam.  By having the Examiner request the trademark applicant's email address early on in the process, the Examiner can halt the process early on without progressing to the painstaking efforts of reviewing the application and writing a Nonfinal Office Action.

Google ads is at least partly to blame for this fiasco.  The fake and fraudulent trademark companies buy up key words and pay to have their ads at the top of the list when a person google-searches for trademark registration.  The ads offer very low prices, quick turnaround times -- none of which comport with the reality of trademark applications.  But, those being suckered into using these sites cannot be blamed -- the site says "USPTO Trademark," looks legit, etc. The REAL website of the US Patent and Trademark Office ,, to be truthful, is a cluttered mess.  It would be hard to blame the public for being attracted to a website that claims to be dealing in trademarks and makes it look as if the process is going to be easy, smooth, well-platformed, and affordable.  Should the US DOJ stop Google from running ads for fraudulent companies?  Better asked, WHY is the US DOJ allowing Google to run ads for fraudulent companies, companies that harm and make a mockery of the U.S. Trademark, Patent, and Copyright Offices?

The real USPTO website --  - is cluttered, incomprehensible, has a search engine that delivers poor results, and is not in any way user-friendly.  A person wants to register a trademark, and if they do somehow manage, against all odds, to find the real USPTO website, they find up front a very dated photo of Jim Henson and the Muppets, lots of information on Covid-19, and cluttered verbiage with hundreds of links.  This ludicrously poor website design drives people to using fake and fraud websites that at least appear to offer streamlined solutions.  People get lured by absurdly low prices that, in fact, do not even cover the actual trademark registration fees.  Getting a trademark is like getting a university degree -- you can either pay a lot of money and spend a lot of time and work and get a genuine trademark and the certificate that goes with it, or you can pay $69 and fill out an online application and get a fake certificate.  

Screen shot of half of the front page of the real USPTO Website, below.  

My suggestions on how to deal with the current mess at the USPTO:

1. Require all trademark applications to be made only by licensed lawyers.  Most successful applications are already made by licensed lawyers, so all this would really do is get rid of the fraud applications and the nonsensical or poorly-made applications.  Have a list of lawyers who practice before the Trademark Office, and publish it, so the public knows how to find a real trademark lawyer.

2. Have the DOJ take aggressive action against fraudulent Trademark websites and companies, domain name ownership that confuses the public, etc.

3.  Have a public awareness campaign on what trademark is, how much it costs, and the rather complex process involved in getting a trademark.


Trademark applicants, even those making legitimate applications, are besieged by mail from fake companies demanding payment for fake trademark services.  The mail usually looks like bills and comes from addresses that include company names and addresses that sound somewhat legit.  These bills demand payment of hundreds, or usually thousands of dollars.  I have come across people online who have been paying hundreds of dollars each month to "maintain" their trademark.  These people have been duped by realistic-looking bills.  IF.. if these people had registered their trademarks using a real lawyer, they could ask the lawyer about the bill, and the lawyer would tell them, "No, that is fake.  Don't pay it."  

The U.S. Trademark Office is very well aware of these scams.  The Office, unfortunately, refers to them as "misleading notices."   "Misleading notices" is far too soft a term for fake bills that cause people to pay thousands of dollars to a scam company.  "Beware of all types of offers and notices not from the USPTO. In March 2017, the operators of a private company—the Trademark Compliance Center—were convicted of money laundering in a trademark renewal scam."  

The USPTO provides a list of the names of some of the companies that have been sending out fake bills and notices demanding money.  You can click on any of the links to see actual examples of the misleading notices.

Solicitations originating within the United States

Solicitations originating outside the United States

This video gives additional useful information about these scam solicitations that are sent to most everyone that applies for a trademark, whether or not the applicant uses a trademark lawyer.

Justice and Justin Bieber


Justice and Justin Bieber

by Susan Basko, esq.

Justin Bieber has been sent a Cease and Desist by the French electronic music duo called Justice.  Justice registered the trademark on the left, in the French trademark system, but not in the U.S.  The Justice duo claims that the cover of Justin Bieber's latest album, called Justice, seen on the right, infringes upon their copyright.  

Let's look at why this claim is not likely to succeed.  There are many reasons.  First, Justice did not register their trademark in the U.S.  Second, Justin Bieber has not (yet) filed a trademark on "Justice."

Third, "justice" is a generic term, and this electronic duo has no hold or control over the name.  If their name were unique, such as "Megadeth" they might have some legit claim over the word.  As of now, there are 1014 live trademarks in the US trademark system that contain the word, "justice."

Fourth, Justice claims that Bieber's design on the word, "justice" is too similar to theirs, because they claim the "t" is elongated to create a Christian cross.  Look at the two designs.  Justice uses a graffiti writing style, with little arrows coming off the ends of the letters.  Bieber uses a totally different typeface, a very sleek, chunky, modern sans serif lettering. 

The overall line of the lettering on the Justice trademark swoops down and then up again.  Bieber's lettering has a straight bottom line.  In fact, Bieber's letter "t" is not elongated and has the same bottom line as the rest of his letters.

If we were discussing copyright, which is different from trademark, we would note that font styles do not have copyright.  Also, titles of albums do not have copyright.  Also, one cannot copyright a single word.  Also, a common symbol such as a cross does not have copyright. 

Then there is the idea of consumer confusion.  I doubt any fans of Justin Bieber's music have ever heard of the electronic duo, Justice.  Justice's fans have likely heard of Justin Bieber, but they are not likely to confuse these two highly divergent music artists.

I did a search of the US Trademark database to find trademarks that incorporate the word "justice" and also a design of a cross.  I found a short list, and most of them are dead.  

Then, I looked at each of these. I found three that had any possible similarity to the Justice trademark or to Justin Bieber's album cover.  This is the first -- the Medical Justice League, with a crest including a cross.  There is no similarity to either Justice's trademark or Justin Bieber's album cover design.

Next, there is an abandoned trademark using the word "justice" and a cross. Again, not similar.

Third, there is a live trademark for insurance claims that is uses a cross and the word, "justice."  It is the most similar to the French Justice music trademark and to Bieber's album cover design.  Even still, it is not similar to either.  The point here is that anyone can use the word "justice" in a trademark, along with a Latin Cross, and this does not mean it infringes.

I've read that Justin Bieber has a "Justice" clothing line planned.  He should probably get busy and file a trademark on that, before someone beats him to it.

There's another issue some people are complaining about.  Justin Bieber used some wording from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as lyrics in some of his songs.  He did so with the blessing of the King family.  There is a triple blessing to Bieber using MLK's words as lyrics.  The family/ estate holds the copyright on many of Dr. King's famous writings and speeches.  They use the copyright to protect the integrity of the writings, as well as to make money for the family and estate.  This is most helpful since Dr. King died very young and was therefore not around to support his family.  His words lived on, and protected by copyright, have helped support the family.  

Some people have complained that Justin Bieber named Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as "co-writer" on at least one song.  This is legally a correct thing to do.  The lyrics are written by MLK and therefore, he is a co-songwriter.  This also means that MLK's family or estate is entitled to publishing royalties on the song.  That could add up to quite a bit of money for the family.  

Justin Bieber is not usurping or misusing the MLK name, he is introducing MLK's words and ideas to a new generation.  He is helping spread MLK's ideas about justice.  By doing so, Justin Bieber is helping the MLK family and estate to make money.  By doing so, Justin Bieber is promoting justice in ways that are available to him as a very famous music artist.