Stephen Hawking Wants to Trademark His Name

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking has a long list of warnings about threats to humanity. (Image credit: Flickr/NASA HQ PHOTO.)

Stephen Hawking, the British physicist famous for his groundbreaking research in the face of pronounced physical disability, has applied to trademark his name.

Like author J.K. Rowling, soccer star David Beckham and fellow physicist Brian Cox, Hawking filed for the trademark in order to prevent people from using his name inappropriately in products, Techie News reported.

The trademark would also allow Hawking to set up a charitable foundation, possibly to support research in physics or motor neuron disease. [8 Shocking Things We Learned From Stephen Hawking's Book]

The University of Cambridge professor, who was recently portrayed by actor Eddie Redmayne (who went on to win an Academy Award for his performance) in the 2014 biopic "The Theory of Everything," suffers from a motor neuron disease related to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also called Lou Gehrig's disease. Diagnosed when he was 21, Hawking is completely paralyzed and unable to speak without the aid of a computerized speech synthesizer.

Professionally, Hawking is most famous for his studies of black holes and other space-time singularities. He also wrote the best-selling popular science book, "A Brief History of Time" (Bantam Dell Publishing Group, 1988).

The move to trademark his name is "a personal matter for Stephen Hawking; it is not a university issue, but he has taken measures to protect his name and the success it has brought," a University of Cambridge spokesman said, according to Techie News.

If Hawking's request is accepted, it could be worth millions of British pounds, said Chris McLeod, president of the Institute of Trademark Attorneys. The trademark would cover the use of his name for computer games, powered wheelchairs, greeting cards and health care, according to news reports.

Recently, Hawking made headlines with his warning about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, which he has said could "spell the end of the human race." A number of elite tech leaders, including Elon Musk and Bill Gates, have sounded similar alarms, though experts say the development of machines with humanlike intelligence is many decades away.

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Tanya Lewis
Staff Writer
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.