Publicity Stunt On Like Donkey Kong, After Nintendo Files Trademark For 'It's On Like Donkey Kong'

from the it's-on-like-a-promotional-stunt dept

It appears that Nintendo has filed for a trademark on “It’s On Like Donkey Kong,” the popular catchphrase that apparently became popular when Ice Cube used it in a song. Nintendo, of course, has a reasonable trademark on “Donkey Kong” itself. But on that phrase? That seems pretty questionable. Of course, a pretty big clue as to why Nintendo is doing this is covered in CNN’s article about the trademark application: this trademark application just happened to have been noticed “just days before the latest Donkey Kong [game] is to be released.” Ah, trademark abuse for publicity.

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Companies: nintendo

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Comments on “Publicity Stunt On Like Donkey Kong, After Nintendo Files Trademark For 'It's On Like Donkey Kong'”

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Dino Baskovic (user link) says:

But it's been "on" before, right?

I would love for an IP attorney to weigh in on this. If the trademark is approved by the USPTO, then Nintendo has a legal obligation to pursue every use of the phrase that would infringe upon the mark in such as way that causes irreparabe damage to Nintendo. Is that wise legal strategy, to embroil the company in additional litigation, perhaps unnecessarily?

Plus this is an example of a catchphrase in the mainstream, and a positive one at that as far as the brand is considered. Nintendo should be so lucky. So would the USPTO reject the mark based on that?

Chris Ball (profile) says:

Limitations on trademarks

Let’s not forget, a trademark only comes with the exclusive right to use it in a particular trade. This isn’t like Nintendo would get the right to stop anyone else from using the expression “it’s on like Donkey Kong”–only to stop anyone from using it in such a way that it might be misleading or confusing. I feel like Nintendo has a legitimate interest in preventing, say, Sony or Microsoft from using “it’s on like Donkey Kong” to market their competing video game systems.

Now that’s not to say that trademarks aren’t often abused by rights-holders making unjustified threats, but I don’t think registering and using a mark like this inherently abusive.

anonIPattorney says:

Dino: Nothing in the law requires a trademark holder to file additional applications for registration covering phrases that use a mark it owns. It, of course, can register such variations for strategic reasons–but law doesn’t obligate it to do so. Indeed, that’s, in part, what the likelihood of confusion legal test for trademark infringement is designed to prevent. The law does, however, require you to “protect” the marks you own. As for trademarking a popular phrase . . . “Just do it.” I don’t see anything special about this.

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