Britian’s Spectator newspaper publishes an angry rant condemning the trademark overzealousness of the 2012 Olympics, which, in the service of preventing so-called “ambush marketing”, has banned the use of Olympics-related words and symbols in instances that look more than a bit nonsensical. A local florist was told to take an Olympic-ring flower arrangement out of her window. A group of real estate agents were threatened with a lawsuit for making Olympic-torch-shaped “for sale” signs. And a group of baking enthusiasts were told they could not sponsor a Olympics-themed cake-decorating competition.
So the gold medal for trademark overenforcement goes to the International Olympic Committee and their U.K. enforcement arm. Not an award that anyone is going to brag about.
– Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has trademarked his hook shot. Really? Would another basketball player be sued by the former L.A. Laker superstar for using it in a game? Especially considering that Kareem didn’t invent it?
– Tennis great John McEnroe has trademarked the phrase “You cannot be serious!”, which is a substantially cleaned-up version of what he used to scream at referees. I propose that the scores if not hundreds of refs McEnroe abused should get a cut of royalties.
– And in perhaps the most insane entry in the list, boxing announcer Michael Buffer (who I’d never heard of before now even though I am a boxing fan) has trademarked the phrase “Let’s get ready to rumble!”, which is how he typically introduces a bout. And he’s apparently made over $400 million in licensing revenue from the trademark.
We are in the wrong business.