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It's been On Like Donkey Kong since 1981  (Source:
Can the phrase be trademarked is the question

Nintendo has some of the most epic gaming characters in the history of gaming. The company has been celebrating the 25th birthday of Mario this year and that's not the only popular character the gaming company has in its stable.

One of the old school arcade game classics that gamers grew up playing in the 80's was Nintendo's Donkey Kong. CNN reports that Nintendo is now trying to trademark a pop-culture phrase "On like Donkey Kong." The company has filed for the trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. According to Nintendo the phrase is, "an old, popular Nintendo phrase that has a number of possible interpretations depending on how it's used."

The catchphrase has been uttered in all manner of ways over the years and whether or not the phrase can be trademarked is up for debate. The move to trademark the phrase coincides with the launch of the latest Donkey Kong adventure by Nintendo called Donkey Kong Country Returns on November 21.

It would be easy enough to surmise that Nintendo wants to capitalize on the phrase for marketing campaigns and keep the phrase from being used without some sort of royalty payment. Nintendo could use the money with some very poor quarters recently thanks to the soaring yen and sagging sales in America.

"On Like Donkey Kong" has been uttered in music and on film over the years and has graced the front of many geeky clothing items.  Nintendo also used the phrase in a press release for the new Donkey Kong video game writing, "On Nov. 21, It's on like Donkey Kong!"

An official Nintendo statement on the phrase read, "In addition to Nintendo's use, it has been used in popular music, television and film over the years, pointing to Donkey Kong's status as an enduring pop-culture icon and video game superstar."

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prior art?
By Cr0nJ0b on 11/11/2010 11:43:00 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not a legal guy or anything, but isn't there a concept in patent and trademark law about "prior art". Meaning you can't patent something that already exists and is in the public domain? That's probably only for patent law, but I have to say that the PTO really needs to start shooting down applications for stuff that already exists. I mean, why can't I just put in a trademark application for "Hi, my name is ..." and "I'm calling from..." and then sue all the telemarketers in the world for using my "catch phrase".

Again, I'm not a lawyer...obviously...I'm just getting tired of our outdated patent system.

RE: prior art?
By Pudro on 11/11/2010 3:30:59 PM , Rating: 2
Patents and trademarks have nothing to do with each other. Only patent law has the issues of prior art and public domain.

With trademark law, the issue is whether or not the mark is generic - which can happen before or after the trademark was created. For example, Yo-Yo was clearly not generic when it was trademarked, but was declared so later.

You actually can't just trademark your "catch phrase" for two reasons. The first is that it is generic. The second reason is that for a trademark to be valid it must be used in commerce.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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