You’ve heard people use the phrase, “it’s on like Donkey Kong.” You’ve probably muttered, “oh yes, very clever, thank you, thank you for the delightful pop culture reference.” Well, Nintendo wants in.
The Big N is trying to trademark the phrase, according to PC World, and it has already submitted the paperwork to take command of the mediocre expression. For those of you who don’t know (i.e. none of you), Donkey Kong is a direct rip-off of King Kong, although as discussed in a prior article, it’s legally not a rip-off. Living high on the hog thanks to the success of DK’s various arcade and console games, Nintendo is seeking to maintain control of all aspects of the Kong brand…including phrases in the English lexicon.
PC World claims the phrase has been in use for at least 20 years, which would make it seem that Nintendo has sat on this too long. While this is not a situation like “escalator” or “thermos,” where trademarked terms became proprietary eponyms (Donkey Kong still enjoys many intellectual legal privileges), the phrase seems to be common parlance and thus, at first glance, doomed to failure. However, if one considers that Paris Hilton trademarked the phrase “That’s Hot” and Summit trademarked the word “Twilight,” then it seems maybe Nintendo can trademark a phrase it didn’t invent, too.