Intellectual Property & You (Taylor Swift)

Like or dislike her music, Taylor Swift is one of the few singer/songwriters presently achieving mega-sales, having now crossed-over from country-pop to super-pop-star status with the recent smash 1989.  In glossing over the very recent reports of Taylor Swift's rebuke of Apple's proposal not to pay (performing rights organizations on behalf of producers and writers) during its three-month free trial of a new streaming service, and Apple's subsequent reversal, I ran across this interesting tidbit:  in late Oct. 2014, Swift had applied for multiple (40) trademark applications based on song lyrics.[1] Although this has been misreported as Swift having "trademarked" five lyrical phrases, when in fact these were "intent to use" (ITU) filings[2] without any registering decisions made from the US Patent and Trademark Office, it certainly shows a keen attentiveness to the value of her intellectual property regardless of form or media at issue.  Seemingly ripping a page from the KISS (Gene Simmons/Paul Stanley) playbook, and then like a creative coach tweaking the play, Swift has taken some of the more popular (catch-phrase type) lyrics from the collection of songs found on 1989 and filed these ITU applications to further monetize the lyrics beyond the digital downloads and net-streaming revenue available for artists.  While I wouldn't expect a Taylor Swift casket, or for Swift's name to become the nickname of an Arena Football League franchise, Swift's aggressiveness with this type of branding and marketing may know few bounds.


1. The lyrical phrases "Part Like It's 1989" and "This Sick Beat" are taken from the hit song "Shake It Off"; Swift filed intent-to-use applications for both phrases, and each phrase was filed in 16 separate classes of goods and/or services (or 32 applications in total). Three other phrases, "Cause We Never Go Out Of Style" (3 classes of goods/services), "Could Show You Incredible Things" (3 classes of goods/services), and "Nice to Meet You. Where Have You Been?" (2 classes of goods/services), were each taken from the hit song "Blank Space", comprising the remaining applications of the 40 filed by Swift. 2. An "intent-to-use" (ITU) application is designated as a "1B" application and signifies that the applicant has a bona fide intent-to-use the mark in interstate commerce in the future and in association with the goods and/or services identified, but no present interstate commerce usage exists as of the filing. An ITU application for a mark, if approved, requires that the applicant eventually start using the mark in interstate commerce or forfeit the right to use the mark exclusively in those classes of goods and/or services.