10 Famous Phrases You Never Knew Were Trademarked
Some are phrases you hear on a surprisingly regular basis. Others are a bit more creative.
Let’s get ready to rumble!
Famed wrestling and boxing announcer Michael Buffer must have known his catchphrase would take off when he started using it in the ‘80s. Since having it trademarked in 1992, he’s reportedly made $400 million by licensing one of the most famous phrases to be used in movies, commercials, video games, you name it. In the late ‘90s, Buffer was part of a New York City taxi campaign to get riders to buckle up. Anyone who got in a cab would hear, “Let’s get ready to rumble… for safety!”
When you invite your friends over for game night and win three games in a row, it’s not simply three wins. It’s not a repeat plus one. It’s a three-peat, a term usually used to describe three consecutive sports championship wins. The term was successfully trademarked by former Los Angeles Lakers coach Pat Riley in 1988, just as his team was set to win three consecutive NBA titles. Unfortunately, the Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons, but since Riley obtained the copyright for commercial use, he did profit off other teams who completed the precious three-peat. There’s a bright side to everything.
Paris Hilton made her catchphrase famous on her reality show, The Simple Life, and later acquired three trademarks for it: one for use in men’s and women’s clothing, one for electronic devices, and one for alcoholic beverages. In 2007, she sued Hallmark for putting the expression and her image on a greeting card—and won. That’s a win for famous phrases everywhere! Or, as Hilton would say, “That’s hot.” Check out the origins of 14 other commonly used phrases.
You cannot be serious
Some famous phrases sound like phrases you’d hear in everyday conversation—because they are. When Joe McEnroe was an active tennis player, he was known for getting a bit aggressive with the umpires. While playing at Wimbledon in 1981, an umpire made a call against him, to which the Queens, New York, native exclaimed, “You cannot be serious!” Now McEnroe owns the trademark.
This sick beat
No celebrity trademarks phrases better than Taylor Swift. After her 2014 album 1989 debuted, she trademarked five famous phrases from her songs: “This Sick Beat,” “Party Like It’s 1989,” “Cause We Never Go Out of Style,” “Could Show You Incredible Things,” and “Nice to Meet You. Where You Been?” Now no one can use those famous phrases commercially without a price tag. Luckily, you can still sing them at the top of your lungs as much as you want.
A motivating phrase for a somber reason, “Let’s roll” was trademarked by the Todd M. Beamer Foundation, now called Heroic Choices. Todd Beamer was a passenger on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. He and other passengers worked together to overtake the hijackers piloting the plane and ultimately crashed the plane into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. His last words, overheard by an airphone supervisor, were, “Are you ready? Let’s roll.” Heroic Choices trademarked “Let’s roll” to sell merchandise and give the proceeds back to the charity.
Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte trademarked his inventive catchphrase in 2012. What does it mean? In a 2009 YouTube video, Lochte explains: “It means, like, almost everything. Like happy. Like, if you have a good swim, you say, ‘Jeah!’” Check out these funny words that sound fake but surprisingly aren’t.
This emphatic onomatopoeia is trademarked by Emeril’s Food of Love, the culinary empire of chef Emeril Lagasse. The trademark lets Emeril’s give your kitchenware (pots, pans, spatulas, etc.) a little extra oomph by slapping the exclamation right on there. Other trademarks do include “Bam” in some form, but only Emeril’s has the added exclamation point. Check out these other common words that are also trademarked.
Athletes are definitely on their game when it comes to securing trademarks to crazy phrases. In 2012, then-football player Tim Tebow landed one for his personalized verb, which describes how Tebow drops to one knee with a clenched fist to his forehead while praying on the field. It looks like the sculpture The Thinker, except “tebowing” is a lot more fun to say.
We know this is more of a holiday than a famous phrase, but it’s too good not to include. NFL does in fact own the trademark for “Super Bowl,” and its lawyers apparently send thousands of letters to remind advertisers and small businesses of this largely unknown fact. Since companies pay millions of dollars for ads to air during the biggest sporting event of the year, the NFL doesn’t want to undermine it by having every sports bar in America use the phrase. When the next Super Bowl rolls around, pay attention to the bars and restaurants only advertising “Game Day” deals. Not that it matters much; everyone knows what game they mean anyway. Don’t miss these 22 phrases you didn’t know actually originated in the military.