The famous phrase “You’re fired”, used prominently on the show The Apprentice, recently became a bone of contention between the makers of the show and Sheridan Simove, innovator of a toy pistol. The cause you may ask? It so happened, that Simove had created a toy pistol, which on pulling the trigger produced a flag with the phrase“You’re fired” on it. He then sought to register the said phrase in the class relating to toys.
However, Simove was soon contacted by a law firm representing the makers of the show, informing the former that the makers wanted to oppose his registration. Simove claims he was threatened with legal action and liquidation of his stock.[i]
In the present situation, the objection was raised on the ground that makers of the show had already registered the phrase. Following the receipt of the objection, Simove did some research and found out that the registration done by the makers was not in respect of toys. When the same information was put before the lawyer, the silence that ensued was an answer enough; the lawyer immediately backtracked from his earlier stance. He then contacted Simove, offering him a four figure sum, contingent upon the latter, withdrawing the application,which he gladly did.
The above scenario once again brings into focus the increasing need to be IP conscious. Unlike earlier times when the primary focus of enterprises and businesses was on tangible assets, the focus has now shifted towards intangible assets such as trademark, copyrights, designs, geographical indication, patents, etc. The role of intangible assets in the success of a business has hit the roof, thereby necessitating the need to take proactive measures to protect IP as well as to develop general awareness about IP.
[i] Simon Keegan, Apprentice bosses in trademark row over You’re Fired slogan, Available at: http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/apprentice-bosses-trademark-row-over-6670413