In recent months, much has been made of Taylor Swift filing several dozen trademark applications for a variety of phrases and song titles. See stories in Rolling Stone (Taylor Swift Trademarks ‘This Sick Beat’ and Other ‘1989’ Phrases), Forbes, Time and other news sources.
Swift’s phrases and terms can potentially function as trademarks – if they are used to identify the sale of goods or services. In other words, using them as song or album titles, or as the chorus in songs, does not establish any trademark rights.
Ms. Swift is not the first musician to file for a lot of trademark registrations. Michael Jackson (and now his estate) own more than 300 current and old applications and registrations, including BAD, KING OF POP, THRILLER, and BILLIE JEAN. Elvis’ estate owns dozens (see my post, “The King” of trademarks: fun #Elvis trademarks on his 80th birthday | THE KING, GRACELAND, ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING and more). Steve Miller recently filed for FLY LIKE AN EAGLE, SPACE COWBOY, and more (see @TimberlakeLaw post here).
But who is the music world’s king of trademarks? Not Elvis or Michael Jackson, but Jimmy Buffett. Buffett’s Margaritaville Enterprises owns more than 100 pending application, and more than 225 current registrations at the USPTO.
His registrations include the following (click marks for USPTO records):
- IT’S 5 O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE
- PARROT HEAD
- IT’S MY OWN DAMN FAULT
- IF WE WEREN’T ALL CRAZY…WE’D ALL GO INSANE!
- SEARCHIN’ FOR MY LOST SHAKER OF SALT
as well as a very interesting registration for the configuration of lighting fixtures in the shape of a sliced citrus fruit!