Can Fox Media Trademark the Phrase “Ok, Boomer”?

Fox Media has made a splash in the news by filing an intent-to-use application for a trademark for the phrase “OK, Boomer.” For those who have not heard, the “Ok, Boomer” is a retort used by teens and young adults to mock Baby Boomers. The meme first appeared a few weeks ago on a popular video app called TikTok. As reported by CBS News, one of the more famous uses of the phrase came last month when a 25-year-old New Zealand lawmaker — Chlöe Swabrick — silenced a fellow Parliament member by retorting “OK, Boomer.”

Fox Media reportedly is attempting to trademark the phrase to be used as a title for a yet-to-be created reality or comedy television show. Several other persons and businesses have also filed for trademark registration to use the phrase on clothing, home furnishings, and other commercial products. For example, as Yahoo Finance reports, three-time Emmy nominee and TV producer Bill Grundfest has filed to register the Ok, Boomer for use in relation to his New York comedy club The Comedy Cellar.

However, whether the phrase can be trademarked is an interesting legal question. If your San Diego business wants to create and obtain a trademark registration, you should retain an experienced San Diego corporate attorney to provide counsel and advice.

A trademark can be a valuable commercial asset for any business that owes one. A trademark, or service mark, is something that identifies the business as the unique commercial source of some product or service. A trademark is commonly a word, phrase, symbol, or design. “Ok, boomer” could be a trademarkable phrase, but the key is whether the phrase has already become generic or too commonly used to be a unique identifier of a single commercial source of a product or service. Even in a short time of a few weeks, the phrase may have become so commonly used that the phrase has become generic.

Trademark law does not allow registration of a phrase or symbol that is deemed generic because such a mark can never be a unique identifier of a single commercial source. As an example, the word “mattress” is a word that the public understands to refer to a type of bedding. Under trademark law, that phrase is a generic term that cannot be trademarked for that purpose. Another example might be “apple” which is a generic word for a type of fruit. No trademark registration can issue for “apple” as used with fruits. (But, note that using a word in a non-standard arbitrary manner can be trademarkable as “Apple” is famously a trademark for a type of computer.) Likely, “Ok, Boomer” has already become a generic term for a sarcastic retort from a younger generation to an allegedly out-of-touch older generation.

As noted by Yahoo Finance, there is also the problem that the word “Boomer” has been registered as a trademark for the University of Oklahoma (“OU”) with respect to its athletic department. “Boomer Sooner” is the rallying cry of the Oklahoma fans during games, cheer rallies, and other events. OU would very likely challenge — or at least should seriously consider challenging — any attempt to register a trademark that is so similar to its own valuable mark. As can be seen, Fox Media (and others) will have significant difficulty successfully trademarking “Ok, Boomer.”

Contact San Diego Corporate Law Today

For more information, contact attorney Michael Leonard, Esq., of San Diego Corporate Law. Mr. Leonard can be reached at (858) 483-9200 or via email. Mr. Leonard can assist with the formation of your business entity — corporations, LLCs, and other forms — financing through the sale of debt and equity securities, mergers and acquisitions, contract drafting and review including commercial leases, and establishment and licensing of trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Mr. Leonard has been named “Best of the Bar” by the San Diego Business Journal for four years running. Like us on Facebook.

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