The weird and wonderful world of trade marks

Written by Mohammad Khan | January 18, 2023

Trade Marks

A registered trade mark gives the mark owner a monopoly right to the use of that mark for the particular goods and/or services that the mark has been registered in. Trade marks, therefore, are no laughing matter. However, there have been some wacky, often questionable, trade mark registrations that bring out the sheer creativity of business owners in their attempts to protect their commercial ventures.

The sound of Darth Vader’s breathing

Close your eyes and imagine the loud, rather intimidating breathing of Darth Vader. If you are a Star Wars fan then that iconic sound will immediately spring to mind. Well, be careful how you use it because that sound is a registered trade mark under the US trade mark register! Described as a “rhythmic mechanical human breathing created by breathing through a scuba tank regulator” (which by the way is a fantastic description), the iconic sound remains lucrative through the monopoly right obtained by Lucasfilm.

Let’s get ready to rumble!

Or not, as the iconic phrase used by Michael Buffer is a registered trade mark and therefore a phrase that cannot be used for the purposes of sports promotions! Although the phrase itself could be argued to be quite descriptive, the reputation acquired by Michael Buffer for the use of this phrase is undoubtable and will no doubt assist him should this phrase be used for another sports promotion.

And now some applications that have failed:

You’re fired!

Donald Trump intended to be the sole user of the phrase “you’re fired” through his attempted registration of the mark in 2004. Much to the dismay of all employees around the world, Mr Trump failed in this attempt as the mark was rejected by the US Patent and Trade Mark Office.


Liverpool Football Club’s application to register LIVERPOOL was rejected by the UKIPO. Possibly because the football club does not own the entirety of the city? Interestingly however, Southampton Football Club does own the mark SOUTHAMPTON within the EU!

Whilst these creative attempts to obtain trade mark registration can often lead to amusing talking points, the creativity in these attempts stem from the lucrative opportunities that a trade mark can provide. It is important therefore to consider protecting your brand name, logo or other aspects of your business to ensure that you remain the sole beneficiary of the reputation that you will work so hard to create. If you would like a free, no obligation, discussion surrounding the registration of your trade mark, please get in touch at

Written by Mohammad Khan – Solicitor


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