Accounting for Law
Intellectual Property

Viral catchphrases, nicknames are good candidates for trademarks

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman recently trademarked the phrase “Height Doesn't Measure Heart” — as well as the acronym “HDMH” — in a growing trend of professional athletes trademarking nicknames and one-liners, reports the Toronto Star.

Toronto IP lawyer and registered trademark agent John Simpson tells the paper this trademarking trend is spurred by the Internet’s propensity to make things go viral, for example Jeremy Lin’s “Linsanity” and Tim Tebow’s “Tebowing.”

“Someone can utter (a catchphrase) and the next minute it can have this instant recognition around the world" and it has a cachet, "which makes it a very good candidate for a trademark,” Simpson, principal of Shift Law, tells the publication.

Stroman is reportedly using his newly trademarked catchphrases to sell athletic pants and T-shirts, the Star reports.

While registering a tradmark is a common way to build one’s brand, Simpson notes that a trademark must be used to sell goods or services otherwise it can be invalidated after three years.

Simpson tells the Star an athlete doesn’t need to be the creator of a phrase or nickname to trademark it, as long as they show they have a strong association with it.

Stroman, who Simpson says is “not lacking in charisma and ego,” is poised to do well with the trademark, the newspaper states.

“He is one of those athletes who wants to be a celebrity,” Simpson says in the article.

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