Marshawn Lynch to Trademark Catchphrase

Word of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s trademark application for the phrase, “I’m just here so I won’t get fired,” is drawing the attention of sports fans and IP nerds alike.

ESPN reported that Lynch filed trademark papers with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office last week to protect his – now – classic phrase. For those not privy to sports news, Lynch is known for his aversion towards interviews with the media, and he recited this phrase in response to over 20 questions during the SuperBowl XLIX press day. Earlier in the football season, the NFL fined Lynch $50K for avoiding the media.

Lynch is not the first celebrity to trademark a catchphrase or other quotables. Trademarking allows celebrities to use catchphrases for commercial purposes, along with other legal and business reasons.

Notable trademarking endeavors include Paris Hilton’s, “That’s Hot;” boxing announcer Michael Bugger’s “Let’s get to rumble;” Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte’s, “Jeah;” and, of course, Donald Trump’s “You’re fired.”

So what is a trademark? The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office defines a trademark as:

A trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.

For more information about Trademarks, check out the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Basics webpage.

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(cc) +/- (c) = Creative Common’s Copyright Protection

After posting my thoughts on Creative Commons Licenses, I realized that I left open the issue of whether authors and  owners would be granted legal protection in the event that someone – eek! – violated their Creative Common’s license.  Not being the type of person to leave anyone will a sense of fulfillment, I’ve excerpted the Creative Common’s blog post on this very issue:

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), the leading IP court in the United States, has upheld a free copyright license, while explicitly pointing to the work of Creative Commons and others. The Court held that free licenses such as the CC licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on the use of copyrighted work.  As a result, licensors using public licenses are able to seek injunctive relief for alleged copyright infringement, rather than being limited to traditional contract remedies.

Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig explained the theory of all free software, open source, and Creative Commons licenses upheld by the court: “When you violate the condition, the license disappears, meaning you’re simply a copyright infringer. This is the theory of the GPL and all CC licenses. Put precisely, whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license.” Lessig said the ruling provided “important clarity and certainty by a critically important US Court.”

So, if you choose to use a Creative Commons license, don’t fret, your work is protected.