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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Daryl, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 8:29am

    It's on like Donkey Kong, Biatch.

    - Steve Stifler

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 9:14am

    Reminds of that one time when Universal tried to bully (through lawyers, of course) Nintendo by claiming that Donkey Kong infringed on King Kong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Dino Baskovic, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 9:37am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    scarr (profile), Nov 11th, 2010 @ 9:44am

    Can Nintendo show any example(s) of *them* using it? How does it have anything to do with their trade?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Chris Ball (profile), Nov 11th, 2010 @ 10:20am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    scarr (profile), Nov 11th, 2010 @ 10:46am

    Re: Limitations on trademarks

    They already have a mark on "Donkey Kong", so Sony and Microsoft can't use that game name anyway (not that they'd want to).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Mojo, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 10:56am

    So can I still trademark "Get on my Donkey Dong?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 1:02pm


    If your penis tosses barrels, then yes, there would be some distinct similarity issues. I strongly suggest adopting some more unique, alternative objects to toss with your penis. Perhaps ball point pens, or dry cat food, maybe paper cups with pictures drawn on them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    anonIPattorney, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 5:17pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Josh Taylor, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 6:10pm

    Uh, Oh Brooks and Dunn are going to get sued by Nintendo

    Brooks and Dunn are in big trouble for using Donkey Kong in their lyric "The Honky Tonk".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Dr Evil, Nov 22nd, 2011 @ 9:19pm

    copyright vs trademark

    so, shouldnt Nintendo be sued for violating Ice Cube's copyright on the phrase?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Hide this ad »
Techdirt Insider Chat
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.