Greatest Hits: The Best of Celebrity Trademarks

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on October 30, 2015 6:59 AM

Property can be an abstract notion and intellectual property is particularly difficult to value. Few of us would think to trademark the things we say or our children's names, and if we tried, it would not work. For the rich and famous, however, it can make sense to claim ownership over some seemingly silly stuff.

Celebrities have filed trademark applications for catchphrases, snippets, song lyrics, nicknames, and even given names. Some were approved. Here are some highlights of celebrity trademarks (or attempts to trademark) as reported by CNBC.

The Greatest Hits

1. This year, Donald Trump got trademark approval for a phrase made famous by Ronald Reagan in the eighties. "Make America Great Again" is now the property of a Republican presidential candidate and reality TV star.

2. Pop goddess Taylor Swift is waiting on word from the US Patent and Trademark Office, commonly called the US PTO, on a few trademarks. Swift seeks ownership of the phrases "nice to meet you" and "where you been" -- among others -- covering their potential use on guitar picks, jewelry boxes, and other consumer goods.Swift is young, though, so maybe she did not realize that we have been saying these things for a while.

3. Reality TV star and hotel heiress Paris Hilton got the phrase "that's hot" trademarked in 2007. She enforced the trademark against Hallmark in 2010. The greeting card company tried to use the phrase and her image on a card.

4. Rap star Curtis Jackson owns "50 Cent" and he takes it seriously. Jackson successfully sued Taco Bell for using the name in an ad campaign without his permission. The fast food chain paid an undisclosed amount in damages -- presumably it was more than 50 cent[s].

5. Rap and pop giants Jay-Z and Beyonce have been seeking ownership of the name "Blue Ivy Carter" since two days after their daughter's birth. The trademark is supposed to cover skin and hair care products and has not yet been approved.

Trademark for All

Politicians and pop stars are not the only ones seeking ownership of names, however. Scientist Stephen Hawking is seeking a trademark to cover the use of his name and image in the UK after they were appropriated without permission for use on clothing items. Meanwhile, superstar athletes like basketball player Jeremy Lin and football player Tim Tebow have also sought to trademark the phrases "Linsanity" and "Tebowing."

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