"Man of the match", "keep calm and carry on", and other phrases you might get sued for using

Odd trademarks.

OFS Group is selling the rights to the phrase "Man of the Match". The trademark could fetch millions, as the owner will be able to sue companies who are using the phrase without their consent. It seems odd that such a well known phrase can be bought and sold, but it's not an isolated case. Here are some other surprising trademarks:

“Keep Calm and Carry On”

The wartime slogan wasn't trademarked until 2007, where it was registered by Surrey businessman Mark Coop in a landmark case of entrepeneurial spirit overcoming Blitz spirit. On his first attempt, in Britain, he was laughed out of the courtroom, but he managed to get it overruled by the European Union. He immediately started serving notices on other companies to get their versions of the poster withdrawn.

"Let’s Get Ready to Rumble"

This "very '80s" phrase was taken by Michael Buffer, the boxing and wrestling announcer. He licenced it to New York City taxi cabs in the late 1990s, where it was used, in his own voice, as a reminder for passengers to buckle their seatbets: "Let's get ready to rumble.... for SAFETY!" He also adapted it for a Kraft cheese commercial ("Lets get ready to crumble!"), although he has yet to take ownership of the adaptations fumble, bumble and stumble. By 2009 the phrase made him over £246m.

"That's hot"

Paris Hilton has had rights to the phrase  since 2007 - a bumper year for the franchising of ubiquitous phrases. She put the flexible phrase to use promoting a canned version of a sparkling wine called Rich Prosecco.

 

"That's hot" has been trademarked by Paris Hilton. Photograph, Getty Images.
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Why do the words “soup, swoop, loop de loop” come to mind every time I lift a spoon to my lips?

It’s all thanks to Barry and Anita.

A while ago I was lending a friend the keys to our house. We keep spare keys in a ceramic pot I was given years ago by someone who made it while on an art-school pottery course. “That’s er . . . quite challenging,” the friend said of the pot.

“Is it?” I replied. “I’d stopped noticing how ugly it is.”

“Then it’s a grunty,” she said.

“A what?” I asked.

“A grunty. It’s something you have in your house that’s hideous and useless but you’ve stopped noticing it completely, so it’s effectively invisible.”

I was much taken with this idea and realised that as well as “grunties” there are also “gruntyisms”: things you say or do, though the reason why you say or do them has long since been forgotten. For example, every time we drink soup my wife and I say the same thing, uttered in a strange monotone: we say, “Soup, swoop, loop de loop.” How we came to say “soup, swoop, loop de loop” came about like this.

For a married couple, the years between your mid-thirties and your late forties might be seen as the decade of the bad dinner party. You’re no longer looking for a partner, so the hormonal urge to visit crowded bars has receded, but you are still full of energy so you don’t want to stay in at night, either. Instead, you go to dinner parties attended by other couples you don’t necessarily like that much.

One such couple were called Barry and Anita. Every time we ate at their house Barry would make soup, and when serving it he would invariably say, “There we are: soup, swoop, loop de loop.” After the dinner party, as soon as we were in the minicab going home, me and Linda would start drunkenly talking about what an arse Barry was, saying to each other, in a high-pitched, mocking imitation of his voice: “Please do have some more of this delicious soup, swoop, loop de loop.” Then we’d collapse against each other laughing, convincing the Algerian or Bengali taxi driver once again of the impenetrability and corruption of Western society.

Pretty soon whenever we had soup at home, Linda and I would say to each other, “Soup, swoop, loop de loop,” at first still ridiculing Barry, but eventually we forgot why we were saying it and it became part of the private language every couple develop, employed long after we’d gratefully ceased having soupy dinners with Barry and Anita.

In the early Nineties we had an exchange student staying with us for a year, a Maori girl from the Cook Islands in the southern Pacific. When she returned home she took the expression “soup, swoop, loop de loop” with her and spread it among her extended family, until finally the phrase appeared in an anthropological dissertation: “ ‘Soup swoop, loop de loop.’ Shamanistic Incantations in Rarotongan Food Preparation Rituals” – University of Topeka, 2001. 

This article first appeared in the 21 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The English Revolt