LeBron James is one of the most recognizable and well-known athletes of all-time. Not only is James arguably one of the greatest basketball players to ever lace-up the sneakers, he has made a tremendously positive impact off the court. Recently, James’ social media posts regarding “Taco Tuesday” with his family and friends went viral. In August, James subsequently tried to trademark the phrase “Taco Tuesday” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). Ultimately, the USPTO decided that James could not trademark the viral phrase.
In reasoning that James could not trademark “Taco Tuesday” the USPTO stated that the phrase “Taco Tuesday” “is a commonplace term, message, or expression widely used by a variety of sources that merely conveys an ordinary, familiar, well-recognized concept or sentiment message.”
James was not the only recognizable brand to fail in securing a trademark in recent weeks. Ohio State University also attempted to trademark a word that often accompanies the university: “The.” The USPTO denied OSU’s attempt to trademark the three letter word because the word “as used on the specimen of record is merely a decorative or ornamental feature of applicant’s clothing and, thus, does not function as a trademark to indicate the source of applicant’s clothing and to identify and distinguish applicant’s clothing from others.”
Although both James and Ohio State University are sometimes, if not often, associated with the respective words James and Ohio State University attempted to trademark, it is not a simple venture to receive a trademark.