Pharrell v Will.i.am: could I trademark branded phrases too?

Last week, I was inspired by the Pharrell Williams/Will.i.am court case arguing about trademarks and phrases for ‘brands’.  Here is a summary of the case. Basically one huge, talented star was arguing that the other huge, talented star couldn’t use a particular combination of words because that was his ‘brand’. They settled their dispute in court.

Dont want to hear it

But this dispute got me thinking: if I was able to trademark certain phrases, this would mean (in theory) they couldn’t be used by anyone. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we didn’t have to hear certain hackneyed phrases. So here’s my top hit list:

“That was a world class performance”. Loved by X Factor and BGT judges who might have a hidden agenda (or £ signs in their eyes). The number of times I’ve watched car crash performances – anyone remember Little Mix’s Silent Night? – that are described as ‘world class’ when clearly someone forgot to switch on the auto-tuner. The trouble is, many people believe the judges.

“I’ve worked so hard for this”. Particular favourites of athletes, Olympians and X Factor contestants. We all have to work hard, and hard work has its rewards. You’re living the dream, and dare I say it, athletes and Olympians are being funded by US to fulfil their dream. That doesn’t happen in the Arts World, so be grateful!

“He’s making History”. The number of times I screamed at the TV during the Sochi (and London) Olympics with this lazy phrase. We’re making history all the time. Commentators: why don’t you think of some more original phrases, so we aren’t having a repeat of this phrase. I know; in your pre-games meetings at the BBC, why don’t you brainstorm a list of phrases you could use?

“They came in their thousands” and versions of that, loved by TV news journalists. What? Thousands of cats? cars? Dogs? It is the news version of ‘He’s making History’ with the journalist adding gravitas to ‘An historic’ moment – and hoping it gets repeated for years to come.

“England will meet Brazil in the semi-finals: it will be tough” believe me, if I had the power to ban ANY phrase related to the imminent World Cup, I would. There must be thousands that could be silenced, improving the quality of life for many, many people that aren’t looking forward to the World Cup. If I could create a media blackout during the ‘Festival of Football’ I would.

“Women drivers” and its sinister comments including “Women can’t read maps”, “Women can’t park” et al. I drive; I see poor driving from male AND female drivers and some of the WORST parking is from white vans (male drivers). As to maps, I just happen to have a Geography degree and am a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Oh, I’m female AND I can read maps….

“You have to be twice as good as a man to succeed”. I partly agree with this phrase: women do have to work harder to be noticed and move up the corporate ladder. BUT I want to avoid it being used because it belittles men’s achievements. Many men also work very hard and many men are also disappointed because they don’t reach the career level they wanted to. Let’s avoid stereotyping by gender!

I’m sure you have many phrases you’d like banned too: let’s share them!

The post Pharrell v Will.i.am: could I trademark branded phrases too? appeared first on The Executive Voice Coach.

About the author

Susan Heaton Wright is a former opera singer who works with successful individuals and teams to make an impact with their voices and physical presence. Using her experience in using the voice and performing on stage, she works with people to improve their performances in a range of business situations; from meeting skills and on the telephone, to public speaking, presentations and appearing on the media.

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