This summer has seen popular icons pass away such as Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett as we have discussed in earlier blog posts. With the recent passing of “Dirty Dancing” star Patrick Swayze last week, I am reminded of his famous saying “Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner” :
Two years ago this famous saying was embroiled in a trademark suit. Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. owned a trademark for the famous saying in connection with its merchandising surrounding the iconic film. It sued fifteen clothing companies, including a Denver company called Real Baby for selling baby clothes with the trademark, including onesies. The parties settled the case before the merits were reached.
Other movie quotes, or adaptations of quotes, have been registered as trademarks. One of the best known movie quotes was uttered by Clark Gable in the Oscar winning “Gone With the Wind.” The trademark “Simply Scarlett Frankly My Dear You Look Divan” was registered in connection with clothing, likely in an effort to capitalize on the success of the movie. However, this trademark was ultimately cancelled because the registrant failed to file appropriate documentation (in legal jargon Declaration of Continued Use under Section 8).
Other famous Patrick Swayze movie lines have not been registered for trademarks yet; such as his “ditto” response to Demi Moore’s “I love you” in the movie “Ghost” or “Pain don’t hurt” that he uttered in “Roadhouse.” Who knows if these lines will ever become registered trademarks.
As discussed above, movie studios such as Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. sometimes register trademarks for famous movie lines. But, if you can beat the studio to the punch and register a famous movie quote (or adaptation of a quote such as the above one for “Gone With The Wind”) in connection with a product, you might hit the marketing jack pot.
Unfortunately, there will be no more such iconic phrases from Patrick Swayze.