30 Things You Won't Believe Are Trademarked

Using these words, sounds, and 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, know what surprising trademarks actually exist for things that you'd never expect to have them.

The phrase "That's hot"

Paris hilton posing on the red carpet
Andrea Raffin/Shutterstock

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

Photos of the Eiffel Tower at night

paris eiffel tower in lights

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.

Usain Bolt's "lightning bolt" gesture

surprising copyright trademark

Surprisingly enough, even a gesture can be trademarked. In addition to trademarking his name, runner Usain Bolt has gone so far as to trademark his signature "lightning bolt" victory move.

The Law & Order sound

stabler and benson in law and order special victims unit

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.

Reese's orange

Reese's candy piled up

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 the "orange background color is a registered trademark."

The word "baggies"

plastic baggies for refrigerating food

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.

The phrase "Let's get ready to rumble"

surprising copyright trademark

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.

The word "face"

facebook app sign in

While staking claim to the word "face" might seem like overkill, that's exactly what Mark Zuckerberg managed to do following the success of Facebook. The word "face" is now a trademark of Facebook, but only when applied by potential social media competitors.

T-Mobile magenta

T-mobile store

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.

The sound of Darth Vader's breathing

star wars darth vader, star wars jokes
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.

The phrase "It's on like Donkey Kong"

donkey kong plush toy in machine

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.

UPS brown

ups worker and truck in Germany

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.

The term "superhero"

surprising copyright trademark

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.

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 was 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 the a similar function and, after a long battle in court, won the decision.

And the "chime" sound on its devices

hello screen on an iPhone turning on

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 also has a trademark for the sound you hear when you turn on one of its devices.

The term "realtor"

realtor lies over 40

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.

Zippo's click sound

surprising copyright trademark

You know that satisfying sound you hear when you flick open a Zippo lighter to ignite your favorite candle—and then again when you flick it closed? Yeah, they own that. The brand says the sound is so specific to their products that they secured a trademark for it in 2018.

The word "onesie"

baby clothes things no woman over 50 should own

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.

Tiffany blue

crazy facts

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.

Boise State's blue football field

Boise State university blue football field

You'll want to think twice before installing blue turn 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.



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.

The phrase "This sick beat"

taylor swift on awards show red carpet

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.

Post-It yellow

surprising copyright trademark

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 it's parent company 3M.

Dry ice

Solid carbon dioxide

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 had been the trademark of the Dry Ice Corporation of America from 1925 to 1989, when it officially expired.

Rapper 50 Cent's name

50 cent celebrity pets

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 in exchange for a donation to the charity of his choice.

Barbie pink

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 22: Barbie dolls at G! come giocare, trade fair dedicated to games, toys and children on NOVEMBER 22, 2013 in Milan. - Image

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 lyric also got the band in hot water.

The phrase "Just a kid from Akron"


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

The word "Bam!"

surprising copyright trademark

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.

Guy Fieri's name

Guy Fieri speaking into the mic

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.

The New York Stock Exchange bell ring

surprising copyright trademark

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

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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