by Gabrielle C. Durham
Certain phrases choke us with their ubiquity at some point:
- “Just do it.” (Nike)
- “Let’s get ready to rumble!” (Sports announcer Michael Buffer)
- “That’s hot.” (Paris Hilton)
- “Hasta la vista, baby.” (“Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” as delivered by Arnold Schwarzenegger)
Did you know these have all been trademarked? This means that you are supposed to have the owner’s permission to use any one of these phrases. These sentences were so popular at some time in history that their crafters applied to trademark and thereby protect the specific saying.
A trademark is any name, symbol, figure, letter, word, mark (such as the Nike Swoosh), or other device that is used by a manufacturer or a merchant to identify and promote a specific good or service and differentiate it from other similar goods or services from a competing manufacturer or dealer. Once you register a trademark, it is yours. You own it. In the United States, it is registered with the Patent and Trademark Office and only you can enjoy the exclusive use of your trademark. The word “trademark” was first recorded in the mid-16th century. (Property rights go way back in law; you could make the argument that they are the reason that laws arose.) Read more »