Trademarks are a legal way to ensure other people can’t profit off of your original idea or phrase, though the rules for what can and cannot be trademarked are not exactly clear-cut and simple.
They can be put in place to prevent people from selling fake merchandise, like phone cases or T-shirts, with lyrics, catchphrases, or names tied to specific celebrities. They can be used to protect your business name against others from registering the same, so are key to your branding and brand protection.
Registering for a trademark isn’t difficult, but being approved for one can be challenging and it can take a while to complete the process. Plus, trademarks must be renewed every few years so they can stay active. It’s recommended to use an IP specialist to help your register your trademark.
From colours to poses and even pets, here are 15 bizarre things that you might not have realised are actually trademarked.
Weird Celebrity Trademarks
In 2019, Taylor Swift filed court documents to trademark her three cats’ names, “Meredith, Olivia & Benjamin Swift” for use on things like merchandise.
In the past, Swift has also reportedly tried to register trademarks for lyrics from some of her songs like “This sick beat,” from her single “Shake It Off” and “Nice to meet you. Where you been?” from her track “Blank Space.”
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few years, you will remember Lizzo’s iconic ‘100% That Bitch’ line from her hit record ‘Truth Hurts’.
She filed to have the phrase trademarked, to protect her lyrics.
Going further than just trademarking his name, runner Usain Bolt has gone so far as to trademark his signature “lightning bolt” victory move.
Food Network star Guy Fieri trademarked his name under International Class 30, meaning it can not be used in association with any food products. He also has one for the phrase “flavor town”. He’s not the only chef to have registered his name Gordon Ramsey has his name registered.
The Kardashians are well known for their unique and iconic name choices, so it’s no surprise that all of Kim’s children’s names are trademarked: Palm, North, Saint, and Chicago.
The orange color on Reese’s peanut butter cup’s packaging is a colour that is solely allowed to be used for Reese’s food products. You can even see that Reese’s wrappers clearly state the “orange background color is a registered trademark.”
Do you remember the bright pink signs and lights that were used in all T-Mobile stores? It’s officially a trademarked colour, and T-Mobile have even issued cease-and-desists to multiple companies for using it without their permission.
That chocolate brown shade—formally known as “Pullman brown”—is one of the company’s many trademarks.
Perhaps one of the more famous trademarked brand colours, that widely recognized shade of blue is specific to the iconic jewellers and it is legally trademarked.
You certainly won’t catch the specific shade of yellow used for Post-Its on any other kind of office supplies unless they’re made by it’s parent company 3M.
Using this colour – officially called Pantone 219C – is something that Mattel won’t let you get away with. The brand even sued RCA Records for using the color in the packaging for Aqua’s single “Barbie Girl”—the song’s title and lyric also got the band in hot water.
Photos of the Eiffel Tower at night
During the day, you can take as many pictures of the romantic structure as you like! However, the nighttime light show is trademarked, so if you want to publish photographs of this, you need permission from the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel.
Darth Vader breathing
Lucasfilm has actually trademarked Anakin Skywalker’s famous under-the-helmet inhale and exhale—which was created by breathing through a scuba regulator.
‘It’s on like Donkey Kong’
It may come as no surprise that Donkey Kong is a Nintendo trademark. That said, you might be shocked to discover that the popular phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong,” is also trademarked by Nintendo.
Zippo Click Sound
You know that satisfying sound you hear when you flick open a Zippo lighter to ignite your favorite candle? That’s trademarked! The brand says the sound is so specific to their products that they secured a trademark for it in 2018.
Whether you’re considering a rebrand or building a brand from scratch, ensuring your brand is trademarked can be extremely lucrative; it’s no surprise these iconic colours, sounds and phrases have been trademarked. For more information about branding, speak with our team today.