Top 20 Ridiculous Things Celebs Tried to Trademark
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
There are many weird things celebs tried to trademark. Some ridiculous celebrity trademarks include catchphrases, song lyrics and even their names. From Cardi B trying to trademark “Okurrr” to Donald Trump's trademark of “You're Fired”, WatchMojo is counting down the strangest things celebrities tried to trademark. Do you think Cardi B should be able to trademark her signature catchphrase? Let us know in the comments!
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Script written by Savannah Sher
Top 20 Ridiculous Things Celebs Tried to Trademark
Being a celebrity can really give you a sense of entitlement. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 20 Ridiculous Things Celebs Tried to Trademark.
For this list, we’re looking words, phrases and concepts that the rich and famous have attempted to trademark, whether or not they were successful in doing so.
Trey Songz vs. Dave Hester
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make for the most ridiculous trademark battles. In this case, two famous figures have fought over the use of the word “Yuuup”: musician Trey Songz and Dave Hester who stars in the show “Storage Wars”. Both have claimed rights over the word, with Hester arguing in his lawsuit that Songz’s version is different and “resembles an animal-like or nonhuman squeal which begins with a distinct ‘yeeee’ sound before finishing with a squeal-like ‘uuuup’ sound”.
#19: “Fear the Brow” and “Raise the Brow”
Anthony Davis, a professional basketball player known for his time playing with the New Orleans Hornets is also famous for something else: his unibrow. That’s why in 2012, at the beginning of his NBA career, he trademarked two different phrases; “Fear the brow” and “Raise the brow”. When speaking to CNBC, he gave this very reasonable explanation for the move, "I don't want anyone to try to grow a unibrow because of me and then try to make money off of it”.
#18: “They Are Who We Thought They Were”
In 2006, Dennis Green was the coach of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and he famously uttered this phrase in an interview after a game they played against the Chicago Bears. This viral sensation has gone on to be intrinsically linked to him. He trademarked the phrase and used it to make some cash by printing it on various merchandise.
#17: The Mobot
Olympic athlete Mo Farah was one of the stars of the 2012 Olympic Games and like many sports stars before him, he had to come up with a distinctive victory move that would set him apart from the rest. In fact it was TV hosts James Corden and Clare Balding who recommended this concept, and clearly it stuck, because Farah became famous for the “mobot”, eventually registering it for trademark after the Summer Games in London.
#16: “Let's Get Ready to Rumble”
Announcer Michael Buffer is known for his catchphrase, “Let's Get Ready to Ruuuuuuuumble”. It turns out, this trademark has actually been an incredibly lucrative one after he acquired it in 1992. How lucrative? Buffer had made, at a minimum, $400 million by licensing the rights to use the phrase. He makes more money from the trademark than he does actually using the phrase himself!
Today, she’s one of the world’s biggest and most successful celebs, but back in 2015 when Kylie Jenner tried to trademark her first name, it was rejected. Kylie Minogue, who has been around for a lot longer, fought the claim, because, after all, she was the first Kylie, with her lawyers contentiously going as far as calling Jenner, “a secondary reality television personality”. And silly trademarks clearly run in the family, because Kylie’s mom Kris filed for the word “momager” back in 2015.
When Taylor Swift released her hugely successful album, “1989”, she made the decision to trademark some key phrases that appeared in her lyrics. Some examples are: “This sick beat”, “Nice to Meet You, Where You Been” and “Party Like it's 1989”. Some of these trademarks were abandoned as of 2017. She repeated the pattern when she released “Reputation”, trademarking, among other phrases, the lyric: “The old Taylor can't come to the phone right now."
Celebrity New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse basically made a name for himself because of his signature catchphrase, so it should come as no surprise that he wanted to make sure he could profit from it as time went on. He successfully trademarked “Bam!” with an exclamation point, which distinguishes it from existing trademarks which also feature the word. Over the years he has used the trademark to successfully market a wide range of cooking implements.
#12: “Sarah Palin”
In 2011, both Governor Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol Palin applied through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark their own names, in a move that called some suspicion to Palin’s political motivations. This was several years after the presidential election in which Palin was such a major figure, so you’ve gotta wonder what she was planning. Since no one challenged it, they were both successful.
All the way back in the late ‘80s, Pat Riley, of the Miami Heat, trademarked the phrase “three-peat” in an aspirational move for his team when they had won two titles. In 2005, when speaking with ESPN, Riley stated that he donates a portion of the profits from his trademark to charity. In 2014, Riley was in the news again because his team filed to use "3-Peat" on "jewelry, namely rings and sports memorabilia."
#10: “Bananas” and “I Die”
Remember Rachel Zoe? She may not exactly be the relevant pop culture figure that she was circa 2009, which is when she was successful in trademarking her two most well-known catchphrases. Both “bananas” and “I die” featured heavily on the stylist’s reality show, and she became well known in part because of them. Not everyone was supportive of her trademark though, with designer Christopher Sauvé launching a counter-campaign called “Free the Fruit”.
You may not be familiar with the name Nicole Elizabeth Polizzi but you’ve certainly heard of Snooki. Polizzi made a name for herself by appearing on the reality show “Jersey Shore” where she went by her nickname, Snooki. In 2010, Polizzi’s attempt to trademark her name was rejected on the grounds that it was actually already taken, by a cartoon cat also called Snooky, but spelled with a Y at the end. Wouldn’t want anyone getting confused between those two famous figures!
What exactly does “jeah” mean? We know it has become Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte’s catchphrase, but even after he attempted to explain it, we still can’t say for sure that we truly get it. Lochte has said, "It means, like, almost everything”, and is a twist on Young Jeezy’s phrase "Chea”. In the summer of 2012, Lochte applied to trademark it for marketing purposes, though it was ultimately denied.
Mo Farah isn’t the only famous athlete to attempt to trademark a body movement. Quarterback Tim Tebow registered his signature move and was successful in having it patented. The thing is though, it’s pretty simple. “Tebowing” is simply getting down on one knee and putting your fist to your forehead, how could anyone possibly monitor that? The devout Tebow said he’s not looking to make a profit, but wants, "to just control how it's used, make sure it's used in the right way."
#6: "You're Fired"
The 45th President of the United States has filed some pretty ridiculous trademarks. Donald Trump is particularly famously known for two phrases: “You’re fired” and “Make America Great Again”, both of which he has filed to trademark. His first claim in 2004, for the generic phrase “You’re Fired!”, was rejected; and shortly after the 2012 election he submitted paperwork for what would become his MAGA slogan, and it was approved in 2015. We all know just how far that has gone.
Celebrities applying to trademark their catchphrases is clearly far from a new trend, and rapper Cardi B has become one of the most recent stars to attempt it. Cardi B’s signature word/noise “Okurrr” has become basically common knowledge, especially after she showed it off in that Pepsi Superbowl commercial. While there was some negative reaction to the trademark filing, Cardi B had plenty to say to the haters. And just to be safe, she also applied for the misspelling of the word with just two R’s.
#4: "50 Cent"
Just like Snooki, Curtis Jackson’s given name isn’t particularly famous or remarkable, but his stage name 50 Cent is one that pretty much everyone is familiar with. Jackson had the forethought to trademark his rap name, which makes sense considering the title of his smash album “Get Rich or Die Tryin’.” Some may remember when he became embroiled in a legal battle with Taco Bell after they used his name in an ad in 2008.
#3: All His Catchphrases
In 2011, which was about the height of Charlie Sheen’s cultural relevance, he filed paperwork to have 22 separate things trademarked. These requests of course included his catchphrases "Duh, Winning" and "Tiger Blood", but he also added things like his name and signature to the list. Perhaps the most cringe-worthy addition was his attempt to trademark "Sheen's Goddesses”, which referred to his girlfriends. Ironically, back in the ‘90s he applied to trademark the phrase "Drugs Are Loser Friendly".
#2: "That's Hot"
This one will make you say, “well of course she did!”. After appearing on the reality show “The Simple Life”, heiress Paris Hilton became a household name and was instantly linked with her phrase “that’s hot”. Not long after, it was successfully trademarked. In 2007, Hilton successfully sued Hallmark after they created a greeting card featuring her likeness, portrayed as a waitress carrying a plate and uttering the phrase, “that’s hot”.
#1: "Face" and “Book”
Facebook the social media platform may be embattled on many fronts as of 2019, but Mark Zuckerberg has always been litigious when he wants to be. Zuck’s social network titan has at different times entered into legal battles with other online entities who have used either the prefix “face” or the suffix “book” in their website or app names. Of course, the company owns the trademark for “Facebook”, but clearly that ain’t enough for ‘em.