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Taylor Swift Could Be 1st Musician to Trademark Lyrics: Report

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Don't you just love that one line in Taylor Swift's song so much that you want to put it on a T-shirt? Be careful, because you may soon be infringing on her trademark.

Taylor Swift recently applied to trademark several phrases from her "1989" album, including "Party like it's 1989," "This sick beat," "Cause we never go out of style," "Could show you incredible things," and "Nice to meet you, where you been."

If Swift is successful in her trademark applications, she'll be "the first musician to stake this kind of claim on words," Forbes reports. Why is she doing this?

Protecting Her Brand

To date, Taylor Swift has sold over 4 million copies of her "1989" album. Her songs are so popular that other companies are trying to capitalize on her success by selling merchandise emblazoned with "This Sick Beat" and other lyrics.

A trademark is a name, word, phrase, or symbol that distinguishes one brand from its competitors. Trademarking her lyrics would allow Swift to protect her brand from merchandising competitors. Swift would have the sole right to sell merchandise with these trademarked phrases.

Swift probably won't have too much trouble getting these trademark applications approved. Richard Rochford, partner of a New York law firm, explained to Billboard magazine that "unlike copyright law, trademark rights don't require the phrases to be absolutely unique or for the applicant to have coined them personally. Therefore, obtaining the rights requires an artist to prove that they're profiting off of a phrase associated with their brand."

Swift Is Not Alone

Swift isn't the only recording artist waging a battle against merchandisers profiting off of her fame. Beyonce's attorneys recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to an online merchant, asking the retailer to stop selling mugs embellished with the word "Feyonce," substituting the "o" for a diamond ring (It's supposed to sound like fiancee. Get it?).

Beyonce's attorneys claimed that the pun's spelling bore too much resemblance to the singer's name, only replacing a "F" for the "B." The online marketplace Etsy has since taken down the shop that was selling those mugs.

So all you other Etsy crafters out there, beware. If Taylor Swift successfully trademarks her lyrics and sues you for infringement, you may not be able to "shake it off" so easily.

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