Marshawn Lynch, Anti-Authority Hero, Loves To Trademark His Phrases

from the beast-mode dept

At some point, this whole fad of trademarking phrases that leap into the public consciousness through public events is going to have to stop. Between trying to lock the language of the recently slain, the foreign policy story du jour, and all the rest, eventually the public and the courts are going to have to realize that this can’t go on unchecked. For some reason, professional and college sports organizations seem especially prone to this kind of nonsense, from the attempt to exert control over a colloquial term to a team simply treating its own fanbase like so much trademarkable chattle.

That last example, concerning the Seattle Seahawks’ apparent attempt to trademark roughly all the things, is particularly apropros in the latest trademark news, which features the team’s running back, Marshawn Lynch. See, Lynch likes to paint himself as an anti-establishment guy. Far from the spotlight-seeking nature enjoyed by some of this league-mates, Lynch shies from the press, refusing to do the mandatory press engagements collectively bargained between the players union and the league. When he deigns to grace the press with his presence at all, he typically keeps things to one-word or one-phrase non-sequitors in answering reporters’ questions, such as when he most recently responded to all questions with, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” It was petty, childish and a departure from the rules agreed upon between the league and the union. Oh, and now it’s the subject of a trademark application by Lynch as well.

Lynch last week filed for the trademark to the phrase “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Lynch famously uttered the phrase as the answer to more than 20 questions on Super Bowl XLIX media day before walking off the podium.

“We heard from our fans, and so many of them were saying that they wanted that phrase on the clothing,” Chris Bevans, who runs Lynch’s “Beast Mode” apparel line, told “This is just listening to the marketplace.”

That last bit is nonsense, of course, because no fan of Marshawn Lynch’s anywhere ever pined for the running back to get a trademark for a phrase he happened to utter. Why such a generic sentence deserves any manner of protection is simply beyond me. A brand is a brand, but simply going out and putting a mark on ever half-garbled jab at his employer that Lynch’s fans happen to enjoy isn’t what trademark is for. At some point, with the acknowledgement that the USPTO has been so lax in allowing the culture of permission and gates to spring forth, some kind of litmus test is going to have to be introduced to keep otherwise common language from being locked out of commerce this way.

And it’s not like this is the first time Lynch has gone around applying for trademarks on whatever happens to come out of his mouth that grabs any measure of attention.

Last year, he trademarked “About that action BOSS,” which he said to Deion Sanders of the NFL Network in the only interview he conducted during Super Bowl XLVIII media day. Lynch is expected to be the owner of that trademark by this summer, but in the meantime, he has already started selling clothes with the phrase on it. Lynch owns four “Beast Mode” trademarks and has filed for four more. He has also filed for the phrase “Power Pellets.”

Devin Lacerte of Octagon, who works with a trademark attorney on all of Lynch’s trademarks, told last month that hundreds of cease-and-desist letters have been sent to people who try to sell products with the “Beast Mode” name.

Delightful, especially considering the origins of “Beast Mode” don’t exactly start with Marshawn Lynch (it almost certainly was used in conjunction with video game Altered Beast as well as the cartoon Beast Wars). So here we have a guy who paints himself as anti-establishment, but who is quite happy to run to the USPTO and turn himself into language authoritarian any time something he says grabs attention.

Maybe it’s time for the USPTO to go all beast mode on phrases getting trademarks like this, please?

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Comments on “Marshawn Lynch, Anti-Authority Hero, Loves To Trademark His Phrases”

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michael (profile) says:

Petty & childish?

I can’t for the life of me figure out why his “I’m only here so I don’t get fined” statement is petty & childish, as this author claims.

Sports “reporters” ask the same boring questions of every single player, and every single player gives the same ridiculous nonsense answers about “giving 110%” and “we knew what we had to do and did it.”

As far as I can tell, Lynch is the only guy in the NFL whose answers *aren’t* petty. He’s the only honest guy there.

See this site for exactly what I’m talking about:

Anonymous Coward says:

Is it fair to say that Lynch is applying for these trademarks or that the guy running his clothing line is applying for them? If Lynch gave that guy the power to do this contractually then it could be that a) Lynch doesn’t even know about it and b) even if we did, maybe he can’t stop it even if he wanted to. I’m not saying that is the case but it seems a stretch that Lynch is filling out and filing trademark applications in the off season.

Having said that, if Lynch really is personally involved in this process and agrees with it then he’s just a fake ass mofo.

As for Lynch being petty and childish, that’s probably accurate to some extent but I still love it. All about that action BOSS. Fair use. Sue me bitch.

Trademark applications to be filed for “Fair use”, “Sue me bitch” and “Fake ass mofo”.

Lurker Keith says:

Beast Wars: Transformers

I’d love to see him try to sue Hasbro if they decide to release an Anniversary shirt for Beast Wars using Beast Mode. They’ve redone Rhinox & Rattrap toys recently. & redid them well!

Also, given that Hasbro does release Transformers T-shirts, wouldn’t they already have the clothing Trademark for Beast Mode, given the blanket Trademarks they file?

Additionally, given the other players using Transformers names, when I heard he was using Beast Mode, Beast Wars immediately sprang to mind.

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