Trademarks are Secret Weapon of Celebrities

Celebrities are getting trademark savvy by registering marks before others get the idea to capitalize on popular phrases and lyrics by putting them on T-Shirts, shot glasses and other products. Musicians, sports coaches, athletes and politicians want to capitalize on their own intellectual property, and more importantly, control how it is used by others to protect their reputation.

This strategy has been used for many years. A Wall Street Journal article by Joe Queenan “Speak Now- and Pay Taylor Swift Royalties” taught me some ultra-cool trademark facts:

  • Julius Caesar tried (unsuccessfully) in 46 B.C. to trademark “Veni, Vidi, Vici.”
  • Atila the Hun sued people who used the phrase “Scourge of God.”
  • Louis XIV trademarked “C’etate, c’est moi.”
  • George Washington Trademarked “I cannot tell a lie.”
  • Marie Antoinette was attempting to register “Let them eat cake” when she died.

Okay, maybe I’m a dork, but these facts are pretty cool about the long history of trademarks in the law and society. What intrigues me, however, is why copyright and patent are specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution but trademark was not. Hmmmm… any ideas from the historians?