DuetsBlog Collaborations in Creativity & the Law

Don’t Be A Clown, Bro: Trademark Your Catch Phrase (and put it to good use)

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Guest Bloggers, Marketing, Mixed Bag of Nuts, Sight, Trademarks, USPTO

- Jonathan Applebaum, Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A.

While major league baseball players are not known for their creative celebrations, Washington Nationals’ rookie phenom Bryce Harper deserves praise for his legal resourcefulness after dismissing a celebration-related question from a Toronto reporter following the Nationals 4-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on June 12, 2012.

The reporter asked Harper if he would enjoy a “celebratory Canadian beer” to commemorate Harper’s critical home run that led his club to victory.  Harper, a 19-year-old Mormon who does not drink alcohol, sneered and replied, “That’s a clown question, bro.”

Harper’s new catch phrase immediately went viral, quickly becoming the highest trending topic on Twitter while t-shirts were soon created baring his original diss.  Without missing a beat, Harper trademarked the phrase the next day, filing it under the “Goods & Services” field, which he applied to “wearing apparel, namely, shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, pants, shorts, hats, visors, gloves, shoes.”  Indeed, Under Armour, with whom Harper has an endorsement deal, has already begun producing an official “That’s a clown question, bro” t-shirt.

Aside from the phrase being regularly used by your friends, family members, national media correspondents, and even a United States Senator, the Denver Beer Co. has since created a Canadian lager called “Clown Question, Bro” and began selling it in time for the Nationals’ series against the Colorado Rockies beginning June 25th.

Demonstrating awareness far beyond his years, Harper insisted that the brewer donate much of the proceeds to the Celena Hollins Memorial Fund, which supports the daughter of a Denver policewoman and single mother who was killed in the line of duty.  The brewery gladly obliged.

Certainly, Harper’s creativity, legal savvy and philanthropic actions have led to and will continue to yield positive public relations that will only enhance his earning power.  Should other athletes and public figures take note and follow suit?  That’s a clown question, bro!™