What is ‘Name a Star' or ‘Name a Rose'?
A number of companies claim to 'sell' the naming of stars, star clusters, and galaxies, with the promise that these names were deposited and/or registered with the British Library in perpetuity; likewise a number of companies, some also offering the star naming service, claim to ‘sell' the naming of roses. Commemoration, memorialisation, fun, or romance, are among some of the motivations offered by companies claiming to sell the naming of a variety of things.
How is the British Library involved?
The British Library has no connection whatsoever with any of these companies or services and explicitly disassociates itself from any commercial star or other naming service or business. The British Library does not endorse the businesses engaged in this activity. Likewise the British Library cannot be party in any way whatsoever to any dispute arising from the practice of commercial star naming.
Does the British Library keep a register of object names?
No, the British Library neither maintains nor endorses any register, list, or other compilation of named objects and the deposit at or sending of any list of names to the British Library confers in itself no status or authority on the naming process. Under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 section 4, the British Library is entitled, at the publisher's expense, to delivery of a copy of every work published in print in the UK which it seeks to preserve for the benefit of research in perpetuity. Any business that publishes lists of names, fictitious or otherwise, relating to this practice, must send these publications to the British Library. The British Library neither exercises discretion over the material it receives in this way nor endorses its content, but such material, if added to its collections is generally made available to readers in the British Library's reading rooms. To access the Library's collections a reader pass is required. For further information please go to any or all of the following:
How are stars named?
International responsibility for the nomenclature of stars rests with the International Astronomical Union (IAU) (http://www.iau.org/). The IAU has further information about buying star names and related matter here http://www.iau.org/FAQs.56.0.html
Who assigns names to stars?
Please see the IAU guide here (http://www.iau.org/BUYING_STAR_NAMES.244.0.html) The IAU states: ”The IAU frequently receives requests from individuals who want to buy star names or name stars after other persons. Some commercial enterprises purport to offer such services for a fee. However, such "names" have no formal or official validity whatever … As an international scientific organization, the IAU dissociates itself entirely from the commercial practice of "selling" fictitious star names or "real estate" on other planets or moons in the Solar System ”.
Does my star name last forever and is it exclusive?
Because the ‘registers' of star names are unregulated and not officially sanctioned, there is nothing to stop the name you have bought being used again, or the star with which your name is associated from being named by someone else.
Where can I find out more?
International Astronomical Union (www.iau.org)
Royal Astronomical Society (www.ras.org.uk)
How are plants named?
Botanists apply a well-developed and organised system of nomenclature that reflects the relationship between plants and the groups within which they sit, that is in general terms internationally accepted, and which allows for universal identification of plants. Common names, used by gardeners and botanists in a local context, are given to plants across the world and have given rise to a great number of synonyms.
How is the naming of plants regulated and controlled?
European (e.g. Council Regulation (EC) No 2100/94) and international powers (e.g. International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants) have given rise to various international bodies and measures to regulate the naming and breeding of plants. In the UK Plant Breeders' Rights (PBR) were established under section 1(1) of The Plant Varieties Act 1997. These rights are granted by the Plant Variety and Seeds Office. PBR are increasingly commonly exercised in practice either as Trade Designations or even Trade Marks. For plant names to meet the requirements of either category specific procedures must be followed and distinctions made in plant labelling reflect this development. Once Plant Breeders' Rights have been established the holder of these rights benefits from a degree of control and even monopoly over plant breeding and the marketing and naming of specified plants.
Where can I find out more?
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, maintains an international plant name database with Harvard University and the Australian National Herbarium: http://www.ipni.org/
Royal Horticultural Society's guide to plant naming http://www.rhs.org.uk/rhsplantfinder/plantnaming.asp
UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) http://www.ipo.gov.uk/
Please note: the British Library cannot be responsible for the opinions or content of external websites referred to above.