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Classic Games (Games) It's funny.  Laugh. Nintendo Games Idle

Nintendo Seeks To Trademarks "It's On Like Donkey Kong" 183

Posted by samzenpus
from the language-pitfall dept.
eldavojohn writes "Nintendo has requested a trademark on the phrase 'It's on like Donkey Kong.' The phrase has been used in everything from rap to television in modern culture. From the article: 'The makers of the classic video-game franchise have filed a request with the US Patent and Trademark office to trademark the pop-culture phrase, "It's on like Donkey Kong." Nintendo claims that the catchphrase "is an old, popular Nintendo phrase that has a number of possible interpretations depending on how it's used."'"

*

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Nintendo Seeks To Trademarks "It's On Like Donkey Kong"

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  • Man... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:09PM (#34190184)
    ...this article is on Like Donkey Kong. (TM)
  • Up next.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:16PM (#34190262)

    "I Nintendo'd that shit." -- Used to describe an act where you alienate people that previously liked you for a really, really stupid reason.

    • Re:Up next.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jornak (1377831) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:18PM (#34190286)

      To be fair, it does include the name of a game that was copyrighted in 1981, and it was even contested and won against Universal City Studios because it was too close to King Kong.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mweather (1089505)
        That's a reason to disallow other people from trademarking it, not a reason to allow a phrase that's been in use for decades to be trademarked by a company that didn't even coin the phrase.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by operagost (62405)
        Let's try to set this straight: it was Universal that sued Nintendo with the "King Kong" claim. Nintendo won because Universal didn't hold the copyight on the "King Kong" story. Universal was guilty of a string of SCO-like stupidities in this case [wikipedia.org], most significantly that they'd THEMSELVES already proven seven years earlier than the plot for "King Kong" was in the public domain.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed...

      My understanding of copyright/patent/trademark laws is quite weak but I've always thought that you register trademarks in a limited scope. For example, if a software company trademarks the word "Explorer", some ship manufacturer could still also trademark "Explorer" because it is clear that the Explorer (tm) ships are different from the Explorer (tm) software.

      How does that work when it comes to expressions like this one?

      • As I understand it, Trademarks are divided into categories. When you register a trademark, you have to specify which category you're trademarking it in.

        • Trademark dilution (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tepples (727027)

          Trademarks are divided into categories. When you register a trademark, you have to specify which category you're trademarking it in.

          But once your trademark becomes sufficiently famous, you can enforce it against other categories [wikipedia.org] because they're assumed to be merchandising [youtube.com].

        • But you can apply for trademarks in categories where you don't have a business presence. Which is why Lucasfilm Ltd has been applying for trademarks on Droid in almost every category for the past decade.
      • by Fluffeh (1273756)

        How does that work when it comes to expressions like this one?

        Clearly, very clearly, what it means is that, ahem, again, very clearly, that we, being Nintendo, can clearly do whatever it is that we want, and you, clearly, can not do pretty much anything at all with that phrase.

        *sips coffee*

      • by meerling (1487879)
        (ianal) And don't foreget that if you don't actively protect a trademark you lose it. Taking into the account that "It's on like Donkey Kong!" has been around and very public for over a decade, and and they are just now getting around to thinking about trademarking a phrase that wasn't even used by them, looks like they already lost before they even applied...

        I'm betting they want to start a marketing push using the phrase, and realized they don't own it, so they are trying to find some stupid people at the
    • by DittoBox (978894)

      Well, I mean, really, that's dumb.

      After all, Sega does what Nintendon't.

    • Re:Up next.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @05:09PM (#34190868) Journal

      Synonym ... "I Oracled that shit"

  • by schizz69 (1239560)
    I mean, can they really claim patent for a phrase that has millions of instances of prior use? IANAL, but surely they cant then start claiming royalties from the use of this phrase in current and future media? that would be like patenting the phrase 'how you doin'
    • by thepike (1781582) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:19PM (#34190304)

      Donald Trump tried to patent "you're fired," so there's precedent for trying. He failed though (luckily) and I have to assume Nintendo will fail too. Also, I'd keep using it and not paying them royalties so it would really only affect print usage, and I doubt it's a common phrase in the Times.

      • Donald Trump tried to patent "you're fired," so there's precedent for trying.

        There's precedent for people jumping off of cliffs too.
        Seems to be just about as meaningful too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by StikyPad (445176)

        I sort of wish he had succeeded, if only so I could turn in my old boss for infringement. :(

      • by hackstraw (262471)

        There is a difference between patents and trademarks. Like copyright, you can trademark anything, and again like copyright, its up to the holder to defend it themselves. Trademarks are there to maintain brand integrity and recognition. Its OK, there is no controversy here. If a rapper wants to Donky Kong stuff, I don't see where this would be a trademark violation because they are in entirely different businesses, and there is no way to confuse Mr Rapper with Nintendo.

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        I think you mean trademark?

        Though patenting the process of firing someone would be much more interesting. It could really help unemployment rates, until the masses of incompetent employees drove all major business into the ground...

    • by 19061969 (939279) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:22PM (#34190326)
      They're applying for a trademark rather than a patent so prior use is a little different here. I'm sure someone with greater knowledge of US trademark law will enlighten us, but I seem to recall that it is possible to trademark something that's been used (e.g., "Linux" was trademarked by Linus Torvalds back in the 1990s after someone else was using it for their business and he wanted it to be a protected phrase - this is AFAIR so I could be wrong).
      • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:29PM (#34190426) Homepage Journal

        On the 15 of August 1994, William R. Della Croce, Jr. filed for the trademark Linux, and then demanded royalties from Linux distributors.
        In 1996, Torvalds and some affected organizations sued him to have the trademark assigned to Torvalds, and in 1997 the case was settled.

        There is precedent for trademarking a name after it's use and using it to extort^h^h^h^h^h^h require licensing fees.

      • by Infonaut (96956)

        That's the bedrock of trademark law. Here's a classic example from my neck of the woods: A little organic fast-food place called "McDharma's" was sued by McDonald's. McDonald's successfully argued that visitors might be confused and think that because of the "Mc" appelation and the fact that the place served fast food, consumers would potentially be unsure as to whether it was associated with McDonald's or not. Furthermore, if McDharma's made boatloads of money by trading on this confusion, they would be ru

    • You don't patent phrases. Trademarks have different rules. That said, I doubt this will be enforceable, so even if they did get it I imagine they would lose it pretty quickly.
      • You don't patent phrases. Trademarks have different rules. That said, I doubt this will be enforceable, so even if they did get it I imagine they would lose it pretty quickly.

        I disagree... First, trademarks are assertable only as uses in commerce. If you say it to your buddy, it's irrelevant. If Microsoft uses it in an advertisement for a new XBox game, that's enforceable.

        Second, prior art in trademarks is irrelevant, if they're not prior usage by another manufacturer. When you told your buddy "it's on like Donkey Kong" last year, you were referring to Nintendo's Donkey Kong. That's actually a third-party use of a mark that accrues to the benefit of Nintendo, since that's what

    • I mean, can they really claim patent for a phrase that has millions of instances of prior use? IANAL, but surely they cant then start claiming royalties from the use of this phrase in current and future media? that would be like patenting the phrase 'how you doin'

      Prior use is entirely irrelevant in trademark (except for prior concurrent use by another manufacturer). Basically, unlike patents or copyrights, the question isn't "has someone used this phrase before?" Rather, it's "has someone used this phrase to refer to a non-Nintendo property?" In other words, when someone says this, do you think of Nintendo, or do you think of Sega, Apple, General Motors, Bob's Discount House of Kong, etc.?

      Suffice to say, no. So use prior to the trademark registration is irrelevan

  • Nintendo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:17PM (#34190274)
    Did Nintendo themselves ever actually use the phrase? I thought it was just a pop culture reference kinda thing, never a part of the actual franchise. >_>
    I call shenanigans.

    TFA says they're using it now to promote the new donkey kong country, but it seems like they're taking a phrase that the public created that is in the public domain and are trying to claim it as theirs.
    • This is a pretty lame move to steal a public domain phrase created by the public, to increase some valuation of "Donkey Kong" that Nintendo named after King Kong, a media property to which Nintendo has never had any legitimate claim.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lennier1 (264730)

        It's not that unusual.
        The Star Destroyer crashed in the "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" trailer was a fan art 3D model a fan had created and then released online. The model was published under the explicit requirement that it was only to be used for non-commercial purposes.
        Of course that was ignored, just like it was ignored when another model by the same fan was used for the second Family Guy Star Wars special.
        In both cases it was easy to identify, since the surface detailing included patterns which diff

      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        "This is a pretty lame move to steal a public domain phrase"

        I don't think they're "stealing" it. You would still be able to use it as much as you wanted, in most contexts, except to sell a competing video game.

        • by Doc Ruby (173196)

          They already own "Donkey Kong". Using "It's On Like Donkey Kong" to sell a competing video game would already be prevented by the "Donkey Kong" trademark. This move is at best redundant, in an overreaching way. Which leads me to expect that they'd overreach on what they attempted to protect. I expect they'd try to extort money or just send baseless Cease & Desist letters to people using the phrase who aren't selling a competing video game.

    • Re:Nintendo (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Captain Spam (66120) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:32PM (#34190472) Homepage

      Did Nintendo themselves ever actually use the phrase? I thought it was just a pop culture reference kinda thing, never a part of the actual franchise. >_>

      I call shenanigans.

      TFA says they're using it now to promote the new donkey kong country, but it seems like they're taking a phrase that the public created that is in the public domain and are trying to claim it as theirs.

      Of course, it could also be as simple as someone in marketing deciding to use the phrase in advertisements (as a pop culture reference and nothing more), and the legal team, entirely by force of habit, attempting to trademark every last letter on the advertisement copy on a just-in-case-it-works basis.

      I'll grant that Nintendo's tried pulling trademark/copyright nonsense like this before (and were almost victims of it in the famous Universal case regarding Donkey Kong itself), but something tells me this was an overzealous lawyer deluging the trademark office with the standard-issue forest of paperwork when a new game is released, expecting the trademark office to do the fact-checking for him. Or failing that, to get a few bonus trademarks and maybe another raise if they're not paying attention.

      I say give it time to see how it pans out before we go... well, apeshit, appropriately.

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Except there is a direct quote from Nintendo in TFA:

        "In addition to Nintendo's use, it has been used in popular music, television and film over the years, pointing to Donkey Kong's status as an enduring pop-culture icon and video game superstar," they said Wednesday in a written release.

        They clearly thought about this before doing (enough to put out a release to the media) as well as acknowledged it's already a common phrase in pop culture...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ashidosan (1790808)
      Can't Ice Cube claim prior art with his 1992 song, "Now I Gotta Wet'cha?" The opening lyric is "It's on like Donkey Kong." I'm sure Cube would be willing to license his copyrighted lyrics to Nintendo, if they just asked.
  • Since there haven't been many good Donkey Kong games in years, might I suggest a new variant on the phrase?

    It's gone like Donkey Kong.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by olsmeister (1488789)
      TFA mentions that there is a new game being released on 11/21, Donkey Kong Country Returns.
      • by gman003 (1693318)
        I was aware of that; hell, I saw the announcement back at E3. However, it isn't out yet, and that's (probably) the only good Kong game since the N64.
        • by Hatta (162192)

          You mean SNES right? DK64 is a tedious collecting fest plagued with low framerates, popup at insanely close distances, and all around shittyness. I'm usually pretty forgiving about classic games, but DK64 is abominable. The Banjo games, Mario 64, Rayman 2, Conker, all outclass DK64 by miles. Adventure on the Atari 2600 is a far more playable game. The only possible reason for playing DK64 today is that you were a poor impressionable child back then, who got DK64 solely because of the license, and were

    • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:25PM (#34190378)

      "In the barrio like Mario"?

      "Goin' to Fiji like Louigi"?

  • What do they gain? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:22PM (#34190332) Journal

    Don't you normally trademark something so that other people can't impersonate your work to give it a bad rep or something?

    What does Nintendo have to gain by trademarking this phrase?

  • by Statecraftsman (718862) * on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:22PM (#34190336) Homepage
    Dear Nintendo,

    Congratulations, your request for trademark of the phrase "It's on rike Donkey Kong" has been approved.

    Sincerely,

    The Trademark Office
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:26PM (#34190392) Homepage Journal

    If "On like Donkey Kong" was a phrase used to market a game that consumers though was the Nintendo property, there might be a case here. That is the only test that is used to determine whether a phrase or symbol infringes a trademark.

    Corporations who frivolously try to grab intellectual "property" like this should have to pay the government fees for using up taxpayer funded resources.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by damien_kane (519267)

      If "On like Donkey Kong" was a phrase used to market a game that consumers though was the Nintendo property, there might be a case here. That is the only test that is used to determine whether a phrase or symbol infringes a trademark.

      Corporations who frivolously try to grab intellectual "property" like this should have to pay the government fees for using up taxpayer funded resources.

      It is;
      From TFA, it's the phrase they're using to promote the newest incarnation of Donkey Kong Country for the Wii, which releases 11/21.

      • Their trademark is probably so other game companies can't use the phrase to market their games. In that context, this seems valid.
      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Yeah, but that is a Nintendo game. He meant a non-Nintendo game using the phrase, of course.

        Trademarks are not usually valid unless they are in a competing industry (which is how Apple computer successfully fought the Apple Records lawsuit, before they turned around and started threatening every unrelated industry they could find regarding their own trademarks).

  • Next up (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:27PM (#34190408)
    Barbara Streisand files for trademark over the use of "Streisand Effect"
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by damien_kane (519267)

      Barbara Streisand files for trademark over the use of "Streisand Effect"

      I'm pretty sure, if she ever tried that, that Robert Smith and Syndey Poitier would beat her in a match of mecha-ro-sham-bo

    • Except, they're not trying to censor the phrase "It's on like Donkey Kong". In fact, I'm pretty sure they'll be propagating as far and wide as possible when they release Donkey Kong Country later this month.

  • by John Whorfin (19968) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:34PM (#34190492) Homepage

    This sounds like the real deal Holyfield...

  • Can we fix the rhyme and avoid the happy-birthday-to-you-copyright-or-trademark-fee?

    It's on like Donkey Con.

    Or Donkey Cohn, depending or which way you say it.

  • by It'sOnLikeDonkeyKong (1938216) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @04:38PM (#34190534)
    It's On Like Donkey Kong in all fields.
  • Devastation all around ... in the pr0n industry.
  • Even if they can trademark it, it's long since lost its novelty and value. A day late and a dollar short, so to speak.

    Actually let's give them that phrase instead, then everyone wins.

  • Cheap Advertising? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Surak_Prime (160061)

    How much does it cost to try to file for a trademark like this?

    How much free advertising is Nintendo getting for their upcoming DK sequel from various news outlets for *trying* to?

    Does anyone think Nintendo even *cares* if they get the trademark or not?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @05:26PM (#34190966)

    I'm gonna bonk her like Conker!

  • If the shame of spouting this gem is not enough to stop you, it will probably get you beat quicker than saying "It looks like you have a case of the Mondays."
  • "It's on like a plumber avoiding barrels to defeat a Gorilla and save a Princess!"

    Also: The phrase "It's on" is only exciting if your talking to your partner about a condom.

  • The original Submission: Nintendo Trademarks 'It's on Like Donkey Kong', which was grammatically correct.

    samzenpus wrote the headline 'Nintendo Seeks To Trademarks "It's On Like Donkey Kong" ', adding some necessary qualification, and a verb misagreement.

  • Luckily nobody is dumb enough to run a story about such an obvious ploy.
  • Pacman is my friend, Donkey Kong is an animal

    -- Automan

  • ... who can't claim to have heard this phrase before? Am I really the only person on Slashdot who is out of touch with "pop culture" insofar as Nintendo games are part of pop culture?

    I'm 24, it's not like I'm either too old to be in touch with pop culture, or too young to have played any Donkey Kong games when they were big.

  • I've been a fan of Nintendo for over 20 years. OVER. This kind of corporate idiocy just proves AGAIN why we need to eliminate all corporations. HORRIBLE.

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