We're not exactly sure how common phrases in the English vernacular are "trademarked" -- it's difficult to imagine how someone could somehow put a patent stamp on such oft-used phrases as "Beam me up, Scotty," "I'll be back," "Show me the money," or "The Seattle Mariners still stink."
Just because you say something in a public forum, even if it's written for specific entertainment entities, copyrights on any phrase ... well, how do you stamp that?
If you're wondering, you might want to ask New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott(notes), who has apparently found a way to trademark the phrase, "Can't Wait!" based on his usage in this interview with ESPN's Sal Paolantonio after the Jets upset the New England Patriots in the playoffs:
According to the Associated Press, Scott believes that if the phrase is used in a merchandising sense, "if anybody is going to benefit off ‘Can't Wait!' it should be me."
Well, there are fundamental flaws in Scott's reasoning, unless he thinks he can get NFL Properties on his side to go after anyone who puts that particular phrase on a T-shirt. First of all, it's a common enough phrase that if, for any reason, anyone wanted to put it on a shirt, Scott would have a very difficult time proving copyright violation unless team colors, logos, or likenesses were used, in which case someone might actually take a legal interest. Second, Scott said it about the Jets' AFC Championship contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers ... which the Jets lost. It's tough to imagine the phrase gaining any traction in that case.
Other current and former Jets may have a bit more luck, though. If Joe Namath wanted to copyright "We're gonna win -- I guarantee it!" or Rex Ryan wanted to make sure he got some coin off the use of "Let's go have a ‘G-D' snack," we would thoroughly enjoy those proceedings.
As for Scott, he might want to worry about a phrase said by others that he hasn't yet been able to utter (though he's been very close the last two seasons): "I'm going to Disneyland!"
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