Taylor Swift is Trying to Steal the English Language

In the world of celebrities, branding is everything. Once a celebutante carves out a section of pop culture for themselves, they’ll do anything to make sure that no one moves in on their territory. Here’s where the abuse of trademarks comes in.

I first encountered an issue with Michael Buffer, the ring announcer who made the phrase “Are you ready to rumble?” his own in 1992. Anyone who wants to use it in a song, a video game or anywhere in public has to pay. He and his legal team have been very successful in tracking down unauthorized use of his “rumble” trademark, earning them millions.

Now Kris Jenner, one of those execrable Kardashians, is looking to trademark the phrase “#Proud Mama” for her exclusive use. If successful, anyone who attempts to use that hashtag will be trodding upon Kardashian soil and perhaps subject to some kind of legal action.

But the height of gall goes to Taylor Swift. Not only is she seeking to trademark “Swiftmas,” her description of her random acts of kindness–fine, take it–she’s also looking to trademark the following lyrical phrases:

  • “This sick beat”
  • “Blank Space”
  • “And I’ll write your name”

But here’s the best one. She wants to trademark “1989.” A F**KING NUMBER.

If she’s successful, that means no one on the planet will be legally able to use “a stylised use of the number 1989”–the form we see on as the title of her album–on clothing, stickers and other merch. Granted, this can be seen as a legitimate attempt to stop bootleg merchandise that play off the design of 1989, complete with its distinctive font. And fonts are very trademark-able. But still, it’s a number.

You can read the whole story at the BBC.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Taylor Swift is Trying to Steal the English Language

  • December 12, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Good thing Death From Above chose “1979” instead!


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