Trademark (TM), registermark (RM), and copyright (“circle c”) are all well and good for their respective intentions, but they no longer meet the needs of sales and marketing messaging. Sure, common phrases can be used very effectively to sell/market, but does that mean no one else, ever, can use them? It’s like the Happy Birthday song; they should be public domain.
Of course, Donald Trump should be able to trademark “The Donald,” because he is the object of that particular phrase; there is no ambiguity about who The Donald is. But trademarking “You’re fired!”? Please! It’s a phrase that’s been in use forever, and is used daily. No one person/company should “own” it.
But wait – then that means other businesses will use it, piggy-backing off of The Donald’s immense success and diluting his brand. So he has to trademark it, right?
Not if there were a messagemark, or MM – a protection that allowed only the registering person/business to use that phrase in their sales and marketing efforts. The key to a MM would be that the phrase is still fair game at your family gathering or company party, but no other business or person could use it in sales and marketing.
So, The Donald is the only one who gets to say “You’re fired!” in a commercial, the only person who can say it to promote his businesses. But Mr. Magoo in Human Resources can say it when cutting staff without worrying about a lawsuit. Doesn’t that make sense?