Last updated on July 17th, 2020
In this post, you’ll learn how the novelty industry spawns so many questionable and even faulty trademark registrations.
The worst thing about all the faulty registrations is how many creatives think if they can just register an awesome slogan like LIFE IS GOOD (only different, so, you know, it’s like, not confusing to college kids), then BOOM! their million-dollar T-shirt empire is just around the corner.
Guess how many silly applications this will send to USPTO?
And it’s not as if it hasn’t been done successfully before. Just look at what happened after the Keep Calm and Carry On posters were discovered and went viral.
|Serial No.||Trademark||Registration No.|
|86048573||I CAN’T KEEP CALM I’M GETTING MARRIED||4704673|
|87314687||I CAN’T KEEP CALM I’M GOING TO BE||5262807|
|86193612||I CAN’T KEEP CALM I’M HAVING A BABY||4531155|
|86893705||I CAN’T KEEP CALM I’M THREE||5040448|
|86553820||I CAN’T KEEP CALM I’M TWO||4831335|
|86381353||I CAN’T KEEP CALM IT’S MY BIRTHDAY||4746828|
|86366622||I CAN’T KEEP SANTA’S COMING||4708287|
|85346472||KEEP CALM AND ACK NICE||4207307|
|86068193||KEEP CALM AND DRINK BEER||4615044|
|86147887||KEEP CALM AND GO GREEN||4616480|
|85733161||KEEP CALM AND HEAD UP NORTH||4334580|
|85787465||KEEP CALM AND LET ME DO YOUR MAKEUP||4456426|
|85787983||KEEP CALM AND LET ME FIX YOUR HAIR||4413532|
|86626134||KEEP CALM AND LET MIMI HANDLE IT||4870662|
|86616473||KEEP CALM AND LET NANA HANDLE IT||4934349|
|86608447||KEEP CALM AND LET PAPA HANDLE IT||4870224|
|86580794||KEEP CALM AND LOVE||4921654|
|86068163||KEEP CALM AND PLAY GOLF||4717334|
|86548075||KEEP CALM AND WORK OUT||4827027|
To be fair, an examiner refused KEEP CALM I’M ALMOST (SN 87582645) for its failure to function. So there’s that.
Novelty = New (Other Examples of Questionable Registrations)
Success in the novelty/print-on-demand industry is largely dependent on one’s ability to generate new expressions for different niches. Here are more examples of questionable registrations, excerpted from a list of over a hundred that were collected with the help of other creatives.
Each of the following expressions is or was a registered trademark for clothing (often, the registration is only for T-shirts, or T-shirts and hats). I say “was” because some may have had Section 8 cancellations (after tying up the expression via an Intent-to-Use application for five-eight years).
Geographical Gift Souveneirs
- 86389859 SOMEONE IN BOSTON LOVES ME!! (6 variations of this are registered)
Hobbies and Entertainment
- 86336299 BORN TO FISH FORCED TO WORK
- 86337250 I FLEXED AND THE SLEEVES FELL OFF
- 86352772 I PRACTICE YOGA TO RELIEVE STRESS
- 86399662 RUN NOW WINE LATER
- 86330794 WITH GREAT BEARD COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY (parody of “With great power comes great responsibility.” – Voltaire; others cite Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in Spiderman.)
- 87172074 I’M SO CUTE IT’S SCARY (infant/toddler Halloween shirt)
- 87172065 LITTLE MISS THANKFUL
- 87199470 SANTA PAWS (Dog lover’s Christmas)
- 86885475 MY LITTLE VALENTINE
- 86922282 IRISH I COULD DRINK (St. Patrick’s Day)
- 87546512 WILL TRADE SISTER FOR EASTER EGGS
Humorous, Inspiring or Political Expressions
- 78399375 DON’T TREAD ON ME (Gadsden flag)
- 77698593 REAL MEN PRAY THE ROSARY
- 86337314 REAL MEN CHANGE DIAPERS
- 78518827 REAL MEN GO SLEEVELESS
- 86331627 REAL MEN LOVE CATS
- 86333943 REAL MEN MAKE TWINS
- 86381346 THE HARDEST PART ABOUT A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE WILL BE PRETENDING I’M NOT EXCITED
- 86364667 THIS LADY IS GOING TO BE A GRANDMA
- 87101976 MAMA SAUR (dinosaur derivative)
- 87114437 PAPA SAUR (dinosaur derivative)
- 87114449 PROUD DAD OF A FREAKING AWESOME DAUGHTER
- 86964999 BRIDE TO BE
- 86963995 BRIDE’S MAID
- 87320305 DOES THIS SHIRT MAKE ME LOOK PREGNANT?
Please understand, I’m not picking on the owners of these marks or the examiners who approved them. I’m not calling anyone a troll or bully or anything else. I’m not even saying all the marks are frivolous or faulty. They’re just… um, how you say? Suspiciously similar to novelty expressions.
And these are only the tip of the iceberg. The next post shows what happens when political expressions go viral.
This is Part 5e of a 12-part series about the threat and impact of questionable trademarks. The next post is Part 5f. Or see below for a complete list: