If there’s one person who can probably get whatever she wants for her birthday, it’s Taylor Swift. A serenade from Mick Jagger? An essay from Lena Dunham? A tennis match with Serena Williams? A hangout sesh with Julia Roberts? Or Ellen DeGeneres? Or Kobe Bryant?
Sure, whatever, the squad’s all here. But it appears that T-Swift, who turned 26 Sunday, has her eye on something only legal documents can buy.
She wants the phrases “Swiftmas,” “Blank Space” and “and I’ll write your name” all to herself, as well as her birth year and much-celebrated album name, “1989.” The blog Tantalizing Trademarks first discovered that Swift’s rights-management company filed for trademark requests on all of these words.
How can you trademark “1989?” Swift already owns the phrase “Party like it’s 1989,” because she trademarked it last year. Now, all 26-year-olds will need to check with Taylor before writing 1989 on forms requiring their date of birth.
“It’s not exclusive rights to that number, but exclusive rights for that number as it relates to her music,” explained trademark lawyer Josh Gerben. “She understands how to go after and protect intellectual property. So she’s going and crafting these very valuable brands.”
1989, Swift is claiming, is part of her brand. So she should be able to profit off of everything with 1989 attached to it. It’s another quest to protect Brand Swift, which in the past year, has taken on mega-corporations, Etsy sellers, an inmate, a handsy DJ and a music teacher. Add it all up next to Swift’s likable “I can’t believe this is my life!” persona, and it’s clear that being a force of pop culture means toting along the force of some highly paid lawyers.
So rather than line up the endless “happy birthday” tweets from the #squad, let’s line up 26 of Swift’s legal adventures. They’ll make you even more excited for the live concert special she announced on Twitter today.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) December 13, 2015
26. Trademark: Taylor Swift
Do not make Taylor Swift beach towels, Christmas stockings, puzzles, lithographs, pencils, clocks, guitar straps, tote bags, etc., etc., etc. They are all trademarked.
You can find all of these trademarks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database. What fun!
25. Trademark: T.S.
Those are Taylor’s initials, and obviously, they got their own separate trademarks. Don’t write them in Sharpie marker, curvy lettering — nothing.
24. Please give us back that money, Taylor.
In 2013, Swift was sued after allegedly taking a $2.5 million advance fee to perform at a Canadian music festival, but not returning the cash when the concert was canceled. E! News reported that the lawsuit was filed by a Florida-based ticketing company that was facing its own lawsuit from the credit card payment-processing company issuing refunds to ticket holders.
23. Federal inmate 05994-070
In January, gossip website Radar Online obtained a copy of the civil suit filed by Jose Hilario, a 35-year-old convicted of possessing child pornography. Writing from prison, Hilario demanded $100 million from Swift because “1989” was an album based on his life story. According to his story, it was Swift who reached out to Hilario. They even hung out at a mall in Rhode Island. “I know for a fact that the defendant have a good heart and that she will come back to her senses and not forget her promise that she made to me,” he wrote.
22. Trademark: Fearless
The name of Swift’s second album. You may be fearless, but you cannot put that on a sweatshirt. And don’t think about “Sasha Fierce,” either. Beyonce trademarked it five years ago.
21. Trademark: “Nice to meet you. Where you been?”
Oh, you thought that was just normal conversational language? Those are “Blank Space” lyrics, and Taylor owns them.
20. Bye, Spotify
Last year, Swift removed her music from Spotify. Even though they made her a playlist to try to win back her love, she has yet to return. “I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists and creators of this music,” she told Yahoo. “And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.”
19. Didn’t you hear me, Apple Music?
When Apple launched its new streaming platform, they weren’t planning to pay royalties to artists during the service’s “trial period.” Then Swift complained, loudly, on Tumblr. Apple quickly changed its mind.
18. Trademark: “This sick beat”
“You could’ve been getting down to this sick beat.” But you cannot say it during a live performance, because Taylor owns this sick beat — and all sick beats, that begin with “this.”
17. Trademark: “‘Cause we never go out of style”
If you thought we would be done with trademarks by now, lol. This is hers, too.
16. No really, you can’t put this on a mug.
Multiple sellers on the craft website Etsy have reported being issued takedown notices for Swift-related products. If the next round of trademarks is approved, there will surely be consequences for many of the remaining Swift products on Etsy. It was nice knowing ya, Swiftmas card.
15. You can’t include Taylor’s name in a domain name, either.
After being named as the guitar teacher who gave Swift her skills, Ronnie Creamer bought the domain name itaughttaylorswift.com. Soon after, he told the New York Daily News that he was threatened with legal action if he did not shut the site down. Type the name in now, and the page redirects to the Daily News “exclusive” about Creamer and Swift’s relationship.
14. Don’t grope Taylor Swift and then sue her.
Colorado radio DJ David Mueller filed a lawsuit against Swift in September, claiming that the allegations that he inappropriately touched her during a photoshoot were false. Mueller was fired from his job as a result of the accusations.
13. She will sue you back.
In October, E! News reported that Swift is countersuing the DJ. “Mueller did not merely brush his hand against Ms. Swift while posing for the photograph,” the documents stated. “He lifted her skirt and groped her.” Yuck.
12. And the lawsuits keep coming.
This one in September 2014 was from a car company she used.
11. Sometimes they turn out pretty spectacular:
Unknown R&B singer Jesse Braham filed suit for $42 million against Swift, claiming that she stole his lyrics for the hit “Shake It Off.”
His lyrics: “Haters gone hate, playas gone play. Watch out for them fakers, they’ll fake you everyday.”
Hers: Let’s be honest, you already know them.
And so did Judge Gail Standish of the U.S. Central District Court in California, who dismissed the case with this ruling:
“At present, the Court is not saying that Braham can never, ever, ever get his case back in court. But, for now, we have got problems, and the Court is not sure Braham can solve them. As currently drafted, the Complaint has a blank space — one that requires Braham to do more than write his name. And, upon consideration of the Court’s explanation in Part II, Braham may discover that mere pleading Band-Aids will not fix the bullet holes in his case. At least for the moment, Defendants have shaken off this lawsuit.”
10. Finally, the lawsuit that started all this trademark nonsense:
So this might be why Swift is so protective of her catchphrases. She actually infringed on someone else’s trademark, and was hit with a lawsuit that lasted 18 months. In May 2014, the clothing company Blue Sphere filed a suit claiming that Swift had infringed on its trademark of the words “Lucky 13.” 13 is Swift’s “lucky number,” and she used the phrase on t-shirts and in a promotional sweepstakes with Hallmark. The dispute was set to go to trial in 2016, but Swift settled out of court in November, before she would be required to submit a deposition, according to the Hollywood Reporter. So no more Taylor Lucky 13 shirts, but you can buy one from the company who owned the phrase first.
9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1: Okay, we are tired. Here are the rest of the words and phrases Taylor Swift has or will soon trademark in some form. Do not print them on sunglasses, phone cases, brochures, napkin rings, “containers being baskets for domestic use,” bean bags, cat toys or “toy battery-activated light sticks.” (We’re not making this stuff up, these are items actually named in the trademarks. Beware the power of Taylor.)
- Could show you incredible things
- A girl named girl (which is said to be the title of a book she wrote as a kid. She has )
- Swiftmas and Swiftstakes
- Blank Space
- And I’ll write your name
- Players gonna play
- Shake it off
- The 1989 World Tour and Party like it’s 1989
- T.S.1989 and 1989