One of my colleagues sent me the latest example of people claiming common phrases or symbols as their own trademarked property. The latest trademark grab is by the normally taciturn Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. We previously discussed how Lynch refused to speak at press conference until he was fine and then went and kept repeating “I’m just here so I won’t get fine.” You guessed it. He has claimed a trademark to the phrase.
The most recent claim follows a disturbing trend in copyright and trademark claims over things occurring in public or common phrases or terms. (For a prior column, click here). We have often discussed the abusive expansion of copyright and trademark laws. This includes common phrases, symbols, and images being claimed as private property. (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). This included a New York artist claiming that he holds the trademark to symbol π.
Lynch used the phrase as the answer to more than 20 questions on Super Bowl XLIX media day before walking off the podium. Previously, Lynch trademarked “About that action BOSS,” a statement he made Deion Sanders of the NFL Network in the only interview he conducted during Super Bowl XLVIII media day.
Lynch owns four “Beast Mode” trademarks. He has also filed for the phrase “Power Pellets.”
This feeding frenzy will continue until Congress stands up for ordinary citizens and curtails the ever-expanding claims over basic language and symbols. These laws are now having the opposite effect of their intended purpose. They are inhibiting creativity rather than fostering it.
Kudos: Professor Roger Schechter