Worst Attempts t...According to the The United States Trademark and Patent Office, a trademark is a brand name which includes any word, name, symbol, or device used, or intended to be used, in business to identify and distinguish the goods of one company from the goods of another. They are also seen as a pathway to riches by a misguided few.
Just like with patents, questionable trademark applications are routinely filed. They may simply be phrases that are commonly used to refer to a company or product. They may be a slogan used to describe a sound, word, or experience. These are, usually, an overreaching of trademark rules. They are an attempt by companies or people to “own something” which is essentially owned by the public. 24/7 Wall St. has looked at a number of trademark applications which seem, and in these cases are, absurd. They are examples of “land grabs” made by companies and people to take control of brands which may be of value, but which probably will be rejected by the federal government.
Read on for a look at the 9 worst trademarks.
(AP Photo/Scott Campbell)
Nintendo - It's ...Nintendo has recently applied to trademark the phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong.” Interestingly enough, the phrase has existed since at least 1992, when rapper Ice Cube used it as the opening line in his song “Now I Gotta Wet’cha.” The company has announced that it is applying for the trademark “in honor” of the upcoming release of its new game Donkey Kong Country Returns although the phrase has not appeared in any Donkey Kong games and there is little evidence to support the idea that Nintendo originated it.
(AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Subway - Footlon...In November, 2007, Subway applied to register a trademark on the term “Footlong” to describe its 12-inch sandwiches. Although the trademark is pending, the company has reportedly sent out cease and desist letters to various restaurants, including the Coney Island Drive Inn, which has sold foot long hot dogs since 1963. It is unclear whether Subway’s request will be approved, however, a number of competitors, including Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silvers, and A&W Restaurants, are opposed to the request, claiming that the term is too generic to be trademarked.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
The Situation - ...Reality television star Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, of Jersey Shore fame, recently attempted to trademark his nickname, “The Situation.” Originated by Sorrentino as a name for his muscular stomach, he wanted to sell t-shirts and underwear under the brand. To Sorrentino’s likely dismay, there already is a “Situation” trademark used by another clothing manufacturer, and including the article “the” does not sufficiently differentiate the two phrases from one another.
(Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
Wal-Mart - Smile...Although the image has existed since the 1960s, Wal-Mart attempted to register a trademark on its well-known smiley face logo in 2006. The company had used the image extensively up to that point, but had not attempted to the own legal rights until Franklin Loufrani, who claims to have invented the smiley face and holds rights to it an some other countries, tried to gain exclusive rights to the image in the United States. Both parties failed to get the trademark due to it being too generic, however, and Wal-Mart has since abandoned the logo.
(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
New England Patr...In an embarrassing move on their part, the New England Patriots applied to trademark the phrases “19-0” and “19-0 The Perfect Season” in 2008, as the team was heading into the Super Bowl XLII with an 18-0 record. The move, of course, was meant to provide the franchise with greater merchandising rights were they to win the big game. Unfortunately for New England, the team lost. The loss brought much enjoyment to the New York Post, which in a whimsical move filed a trademark application for 18-1.
Harley Davidson ...Oftentimes companies trademark sounds, such as NBC did with its famous three-tone jingle. One of the more peculiar trademark requests of this type occurred in 1994 when Harley Davidson tried to register the sound of its motorcycles’ revving engines. The company’s registration description read that “The mark consists of the exhaust sound of applicant’s motorcycles, produced by V-twin, common crankpin motorcycle engines when the goods are in use.” The application was denied, however, after nine other motorcycle manufacturers complained, citing the fact that they all used V-twin crankpin engines that produce the same sound.
(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
Donald Trump - Y...New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has a huge ego. It is no wonder then that he attempted to trademark the phrase “You’re fired” he made famous in the hit realty show “The Apprentice” in 2004. Trump’s request was sparked by the considerable amount of merchandise featuring the phrase that was being sold in the wake of the show’s popularity. Unfortunately for him, his request to trademark the phrase, which originated in England during the late eighteenth century, was denied.
(AP Photo/Scott Campbell)
Chippendales - C...In 2000 Chippendales, the male, exotic dancing service, filed to register a trademark for their dancers’ “uniforms,” which consist of a collar, bow tie, and a pair of cuffs. The original application was denied because the costume was considered to be too simple to denote the “Chippendales” brand, but eventually the company obtained a Section 2(f) registration, meaning that the protected concept has become representative of the owning company due to its extended usage (Chippendales has used the costume for more than 20 years.) Strangely enough, about two years later the company applied for a new trademark covering the same cuffs and collar, but specifying that they were inherently distinctive of the company. This filing, which would not grant Chippendales any additional protection from what the Section 2(f) trademark provided, was denied, and after almost five years the company finally gave up its righteous battle.
NFL - 'Who Dat?'In January 2010 the National Football League claimed to have trademark rights over the New Orleans Saints’ rallying cry, “Who dat?” The Saints were heading to the Super Bowl and the NFL wanted to gain an edge over sellers of unofficial merchandise. Officials from the NFL were unsuccessful. Rights to the phrase belong to a couple of musicians who originally recorded the New Orleans chant, “Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?” in a 1983 song.