Pop singer Taylor Swift may have very well accepted that haters gonna hate, however she probably did not expect several of her US trade mark applications to spark an online revolt.
The controversy arose after Swift filed a number of trade mark applications at the US Patent and Trade Mark Office for a number of lyrics from her recent album 1989. Swift’s applications include an application for the phrase ‘this sick beat’ made popular by her hit song 'Shake it off'. The applications were most likely filed to prevent her song lyrics being used on CDs, toys, clothing and other goods including obscure items such as Christmas tree ornaments and guitar straps.
Heavy metal singer and freedom of speech advocate, Ben Norton has described Swift's trade mark application as yet another instance demonstrating the "ridiculous ability of the rich to legally own words".
Adding to his comments and in a not-so-subtle act of revolt, Norton has worked his frustration into a two minute heavy metal protest song also titled 'this sick beat'. According to Norton "trade marks are a direct attack on one of the most fundamental and inalienable rights of all: our freedom of speech".
As the trade mark applications are still pending in the US, there is still time for those with prior use in the US to file oppositions to Swift's trade mark applications.
Swift is yet to respond to Norton's protests, but it is expected that she and her team will be inclined to simply shake it off.
In Australia, it is possible to apply for trade mark protection for phrases and tag lines, however, such applications may not get you Out of the woods and may be rejected without substantial evidence to show how the phrase is distinctive of a trader’s goods and services.
We recommend that you review the current phrases and tag lines used by your business and seek our advice as to whether they may be eligible for trade mark protection in Australia. Obtaining a trade mark monopoly for such phrases will increase the value of your business and provide you with the power you need to prevent others from exploiting similar phrases in their business.