From Likelihood of Confusion:
It is so tiring. But that, to some extent, is what they’re counting on.
Taylor Swift abusing trademark, again, of course. And everyone else not understanding that the nature of the latest version of that abuse, discussed below, is the widespread misunderstanding of what trademarks do — protect goods and services associated with them by use — and what they don’t — which is protect slogans or other clever word combinations.
But muh brand building!
Item, via Billboard:
Why Taylor Swift Trademarks [sic] Her Lyrics and Why Other Acts May Follow Suit
Taylor Swift has made it clear to the world she controls her brand, and one tool the singer leverages regularly to achieve this goal is trademark law. Swift’s team has been regularly filing trademark applications for lyrics and other slogans under her holding company, TAS Rights Management LLC, striking down infringers in the process. But does it really work, and is this approach for everyone?
Earlier this month, Swift moved to trademark key phrases from her music: the title of her upcoming album Reputation, her latest single “Look What You Made Me Do” and one of the lines from said single, “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now.” Swift plans to use the phrases on a variety of licensed merchandise, from t-shirts to notebooks and guitar picks. “Look What You Made Me Do” is already emblazoned across t-shirts on Swift’s online merch store, which has likely generated significant sales in conjunction with the singer’s controversial Ticketmaster Verified Fan campaign that rewards merch and music buyers with a better shot at good tickets.
. . . .
This is just “trademarked” garbage. No, it’s not impossible for song lyrics to have legitimate trademark status — here‘s a kind of down-the-middle, book-report treatment of the issue; here’s a law professor being quoted as saying it’s totally cool, though I don’t see his explanation of how. (“Nice to meet you. Where you been?” and “could show you incredible things”? Really?!) Not impossible but highly, highly probable.
Ultimately, though, it’s trademark bullying — the continuation of IP law by other means — from which the recipients of these baseless legal threats have no realistic recourse.
Is it utterly insane to suggest that if a celebrity (whether an athlete, “artist” or whatever they’re famous for these days) coins or brings fame to a phrase, other people should not be able to profit from it without the celebrity getting some of the vigorish?
Yes, it’s utterly insane. I won’t give Congress credit for thinking this through, but the way it turns out neither the trademark regime nor the copyright regime protect clever wordplay, and they’re not meant to. Why? Because not everything should be monetized.
Especially when it already is. Every time one of these fans sells something with a Taylor Swift “lyric” (and, really — puh-lease) on it, each use of that something is an advertisement for Taylor Swift.
There’s your monetization, Taylor. Hope that helps you make the rent this month.
Link to the rest at Likelihood of Confusion