A Swift Decision: Taylor Swift Files for Trademark Registration of Her 1989 Lyrics
Taylor Swift is one of the biggest names in the music industry. She has been dominating the charts, recently announced another tour, and has been surprising her fan base with appearances regularly. These events are largely due to the 2014 release of her latest album, “1989.” The album exploded onto the charts and the radio due to her catchy rhythms and playful lyrics. Some of these lyrics have been appearing on merchandise, as fans who love the album want to display their support. Some of them might just be too catchy, however, as not all available merchandise has been approved by the star.
Swift’s songs consistently feature taglines that are often repeated or displayed by fans. Some fans even profit off of the use of them, placing certain lyrics on shirts or bags and hoping to sell them to other “Swifties.” With the release of this new album, however, Swift has decided to take matters into her own hands. The singer recently filed for trademarks on multiple lyrics, including “this sick beat,” “nice to meet you, where you been,” and “cause we never go out of style.”
While the marks have not yet been approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, registration will severely limit their use. Those other than Swift who wish to use any of the marks will need to get a license from her, ensuring that she has complete control over how they are portrayed to the public. She will also benefit financially here, as it is all but guaranteed that fans will be willing to license these marks.
There have been questions about whether or not Swift actually can trademark these lyrics. Simply put, yes. One requirement for registration is that the marks cannot be descriptive. Here, the products she claimed include guitar straps, removable tattoos, typewriters, non-medicated toiletries, Christmas stockings, “knitting implements,” pot holders, lanyards, and aprons. Clearly, the lyrics are not descriptive of these things – one would not think that “this sick beat” described an apron. So, this obstacle is easily overcome, and any Swfit fan will tell you these marks designate the singer as the source. It is easy to see how these marks could be registered.
This is an interesting move on the part of Swift, who recently removed her music from Spotify. These decisions have put her very much in control of who and how others can gain access to her music and her brand. Swift has frequently been ahead of the game in the music industry, and this appears to be another step in that direction. She is the first artist to attempt to trademark her lyrics, and it looks as though it will be an excellent source of revenue for her. At the very least, these filings pull back the pop curtain to display Swift’s keen and calculated business sense, perhaps the main reason behind her incredible success.