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35 Weird Trademarks Celebrities and Companies Tried to Make Happen

Using some of these words, sounds, or even colors could land you in a lawsuit.

Can you own a certain shade of a color? Or, perhaps, lay claim to a specific sound? Well, if you ask T-Mobile, Reese's, or George Lucas, the answer is yes, you absolutely can. In fact, there are countless phrases, images, colors, and noises—some of which you likely encounter on a daily basis—that are actually someone's intellectual property, and they have the paperwork to prove it. So, before you find yourself on the wrong side of a cease-and-desist, read on for 35 weird trademarks you won't believe exists. We've even thrown in a few failed attempts to show you just how far some people go in the name of property and profit.

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30 of the Weirdest Trademarks Around

1. The phrase "That's hot"

Paris Hilton
Andrea Raffin/Shutterstock

Reality TV star, DJ, and socialite Paris Hilton made such an impression with her catchphrase "That's hot" that she decided to trademark it. She was so adamant about maintaining her intellectual property that she even sued Hallmark for the use of the phrase on a greeting card.

2. Photos of the Eiffel Tower at night

eiffel tower lit up at night
Tom Eversley/Shutterstock

Trying to sell your photo of the Eiffel Tower at night might just end up costing you in the long run. While the tower itself is part of the public domain (so feel free to snap away during daylight hours), its lighting display is a separate work of art—and a copyrighted one, at that. If you did want to sell your nighttime image of the magnificent illumination, you would need to request permission from the Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, which runs the famous landmark.

3. Usain Bolt's "lightning bolt" gesture

usain bolt doing his signature 'lightning' move
Ververidis Vasilis/Shutterstock

Surprisingly enough, even a gesture can be trademarked. In addition to trademarking his name, runner Usain Bolt has applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to patent his signature "lightning bolt" victory move.

4. The Law & Order sound

Raul Esparza and Mariska Hargitay in Law & Order: SVU
David Giesbrecht/NBC

That "dun dun" sound that precedes every episode of Law & Order was created by composer Mike Post, and its trademark is owned by NBCUniversal Media.

5. Reese's orange

reeces peanut butter cup orange wrapping
karen roach/Shutterstock

The orange color on your peanut butter cup's packaging isn't something you will see on any other food wrapper. If you flip that treat over, you'll see that Reese's wrappers clearly state that the "orange background color is a registered trademark."

6. The word "baggies"

sandwich baggie

You may use the word "baggies" as a generic name for plastic sandwich bags, but it's actually a trademarked term. "Baggies" is a registered trademark of the Pactiv Corporation, which owns Hefty and is a subsidiary of Reynolds Group Holdings—the folks behind Reynolds Wrap.

7. The phrase "Let's get ready to rumble"

Michael Buffer anoncing K1 match between Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic vs. Ray Sefo at Final Fight tounament
Ivica Drusany/Shutterstock

Boxing and wrestling announcer Michael Buffer knew he had a good idea on his hands when he came up with the phrase "Let's get ready to rumble!" Buffer trademarked the phrase in 1992 and has reportedly made more than $400 million from licensing its use in the decades since.

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8. T-Mobile magenta

t-mobile logo on smartphone screen

That bright pink on the signage at your local T-Mobile store is more than just a pretty color. T-Mobile is so adamant about magenta being its trademarked property that the telecom giant has issued cease-and-desists to multiple companies for using it without their permission.

9. Darth Vader's breathing sound

Darth Vader in Star Wars
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Did you know you can even trademark the sound of someone's breath? Well, if the individual in question is Darth Vader, that is. That's right: Lucasfilm has actually trademarked Anakin Skywalker's famous under-the-helmet inhale and exhale—which was created by breathing through a scuba regulator.

10. The phrase "It's on like Donkey Kong"

donkey kong figurine

It may come as no surprise that Donkey Kong is a Nintendo trademark. That said, even die-hard fans of the gaming brand might be shocked to discover that "It's on like Donkey Kong," a phrase popular among '90s TV characters and sorority girls getting ready to spar, is also trademarked by Nintendo.

11. UPS brown

Close Up of UPS Truck
William Barton/Shutterstock

Don't try to copy your UPS driver's look unless you want to talk to the company's lawyer. That chocolate brown shade—formally known as "Pullman brown"—is one of the company's many trademarks.

12. The term "superhero"

super businesspeople in masks and capes looking away in line in office
LightField Studios/Shutterstock

While it may seem like a catchall for anyone with special powers and a cape, the term "superhero" is actually a trademarked phrase. However, somewhat interestingly (and to the dismay of fans who may prefer one company over the other), it's co-owned by long-time rivals Marvel and DC Comics.

13. Apple's slide-to-unlock function

slide to unlock text apple phone

The slide-to-unlock gesture you used to unlock previous versions of the iPhone is more than just a cool feature—it's also a patent owned by Apple. The company even sued Samsung for $119.6 million for using a similar function and, after a long battle in court, won the decision.

14. And some of the things Siri says

siri answering a voice command on an iphone

Apple isn't shy about trademarking anything associated with their products—and that includes the sounds they make. In addition to the swipe-to-unlock feature, the company has also trademarked sounds made by its digital assistant, Siri.

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15. The term "realtor"

Man and woman looking at apartment with male leasing agent

Though the term is frequently used as a synonym for a real estate agent, "realtor" is actually a trademarked term. Try using it in the wrong context and the National Association of Realtors might just come calling.

16. The word "onesie"

baby laying on bed in a onsie

Think "onesie" is a generic term for a baby's one-piece garment? Think again. That name is actually the trademarked property of the Gerber Childrenswear Company.

17. Tiffany blue

Tiffany & co box and bag
Colin Hui/Shutterstock

That little blue box better be from Tiffany. While it's often imitated, that widely recognized shade of blue is specific to the jewelry giant and legally trademarked.

18. Boise State's blue football field.

football field with trademarked blue turf
Charles Knowles/Shutterstock

You'll want to think twice before installing blue turf on your local football field. The blue turf is a signature of Boise State University's football stadium—in addition to being the first school to have a non-green field, they also have a trademark on the turf.

19. Ping-Pong

red ping pong paddles and ping pong balls on table

Ever wonder what the difference is between Ping-Pong and table tennis? The former is trademarked by games company Parker Brothers, and the latter is a generic term for the same game.

20. The phrase "This sick beat"

Taylor Swift at the 2022 American Music Awards

You may think your beats are pretty sick, but don't publish that thought anywhere Taylor Swift might see it. The songstress trademarked the phrase "this sick beat" from her hit single "Shake It Off," as well as "Nice to meet you, where you been?" and a handful of other utterances from her album 1989.

21. Post-It yellow

yellow post it note on cork board

While you may see the color elsewhere, you won't catch the Post-It's specific shade of yellow on any office supplies unless they're made by its parent company 3M.

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22. Dry ice

Hand holding ice tweezer with dry ice over black bowl of smoky white in motion isolated on white background.

Whether it's in your drink or being used in a science class, if you have referred to that solid carbon dioxide as "dry ice," you were at one point using a term that was the trademark of the Dry Ice Corporation of America from 1925 to 1989, when it officially expired.

23. Rapper 50 Cent's name

50 cent on stage
Jamie Lamor Thompson/Shutterstock

Can you really trademark a price? Well, you can if you're 50 Cent, and it's used as your name without prior permission. The rapper even went so far as to sue Taco Bell for using his name and image in an advertisement that suggested he change his moniker to 79 Cent, 89 Cent, or 99 Cent for a donation to the charity of his choice.

24. Barbie pink

career barbies on a shelf at the toy store
A. Mertens/Shutterstock

America's favorite blonde-haired doll not only has a trademarked name, but even her favorite color is legally protected. And using the color—officially called Pantone 219C—is something that Mattel won't let you get away with. The brand even sued RCA Records for using the color in the packaging for Aqua's single "Barbie Girl"—the song's title and lyrics also got the band in hot water.

25. The phrase "Just a kid from Akron"

LeBron James
Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

LeBron James not only owns his opponents on the basketball court, he's also staked claim on a number of his signature phrases, too—most notably: "Just a kid from Akron."

26. The word "Bam!"

Emeril Lagasse
Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock

It's totally fine to holler "Bam!" while whipping up a fine dining feast on your stove at home, just don't try to use Emeril Lagasse's signature shout to sell any cooking supplies. That's because the celebrity chef trademarked the utterance as it relates to kitchenware.

27. Guy Fieri's name

Guy Fieri in 2023
Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

Food Network star Guy Fieri trademarked his name under International Class 30, meaning you can't use his moniker in association with virtually any food product. Oh, and he's got one for the phrase "flavor town" too.

28. Zippo's signature "click"

Zippo lighter on box
Nor Gal/Shutterstock

In 2018, Zippo announced that the sound its iconic windproof lighter makes has officially been trademarked. Though a sound trademark is not necessarily easy to obtain, the company was awarded based on the careful manufacturing process responsible for the highly recognizable sound. Other all-American brands, like Harley Davidson, have also tried to trademark certain sounds associated with their products, though they've been unsuccessful in their efforts.

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29. "Face" and "book"

facebook page with lock silhouette
Ink Drop/Shutterstock

They may not mean much on their own, but together these two words represent one of the most powerful companies operating today. Both have been registered by Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook, Inc. The move has helped the company go up against other online entities who have used either the prefix "face" or the suffix "book" in their website names.

30. Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again"

President Donald Trump meets with residents as he surveys the damage to a tornado ravaged neighborhood March 6, 2020 in Cookeville, Tennessee
White House Photo/Alamy Stock Photo

The 45th President obtained the trademark for his signature catchphrase "Make America Great Again" shortly after beginning his 2016 campaign. Today, Donald Trump's name is listed as the owner of over 300 trademarks in the U.S. database. However, one phrase you won't find on the list is "You're fired." The trademark office rejected his bid there due to the phrase being too reminiscent of "You're Hired," a trademarked educational board game.

31. Sarah Palin's name

Sarah Palin speaking at a podium

In 2011, Sarah Palin and her daughter Bristol tried to trademark their own names. Palin claimed that she would use the trademark only for educational, entertainment, and motivational speaking services, but the application was eventually refused due to a missing signature.

32. "Snooki"

Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi at VH1 Divas Salute The Troops

Jersey Shore star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi tried to trademark her nickname back in 2010 but the USPTO had already granted the rights to a cartoon cat six years prior.

33. The Amazon arrow

A close up of a cardboard Amazon box on the floor

If you thought the image of a curved arrow pointing upwards was free to use, think again. The image trademark was awarded to the online retailer in 2020. According to the company, the arrow represents both customer satisfaction as well as an endless product selection.

34. Karl Lagerfeld's whole look

Designer Karl Lagerfeld attends a press conference
Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock

Fashion giant Karl Lagerfeld was so celebrated for his white-powdered ponytail and signature sunglasses that he decided to trademark the whole look. More specifically, he sought the rights to his silhouette, which appeared on his company logo.

35. The New York Stock Exchange bell ring

Wall street sign in New York with New York Stock Exchange background
Stuart Monk/Shutterstock

Don't try to use the sound of the New York Stock Exchange bell or you might end up paying dearly for it. The trademark registration is owned by the NYSE, as are the capitalized versions of the phrases: "Opening Bell" and "Closing Bell."

Wrapping Up

That's it for our list of weird trademarks, but be sure to check back in with us soon for even more strange trivia. You can also sign up for our newsletter to enjoy similar content, as well as the latest in wellness, entertainment, and travel.

Carrie Weisman
Carrie Weisman oversees all SEO efforts at Best Life. She specializes in content optimization and editorial marketing. Read more
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