There are now at least nine pending trademark applications incorporating “OK Boomer.” The applicants notably include Fox Media, who wishes to use the mark for a television series.
It appears the applicants are unlikely to receive rights in the mark because the memed-to-death slogan conveys ordinary or familiar concepts or sentiments, as well as social, political, religious, or similar informational messages that are in common use or are otherwise generally understood. Its common use in everyday speech or in an associational or affinitive manner by various sources, and thus makes it less likely consumers will perceive the matter as a trademark or service mark for any goods and services.
This does not mean, for example, that Fox will not be able to proceed with calling its television series “OK, Boomer” nor does it mean that the television series will not be commercially viable. Instead, it simply means Fox may be limited in its ability to go after competing products, including other televisions series with confusingly similar names.
Rights in a trademark may extend into perpetuity, provided the mark continues to identify a source of origin for goods and/or services. It is not unusual however for applicants of trademark applications to quickly try to cash in on memes such as “OK, Boomer.”
For example, Ultra Pro International, LLC has two federally registered marks for “Doge”. Both marks resulted from two trademark applications which were filed in 2014 close to when the meme was peaking in popularity. The “Doge” meme in particular had somewhat of a resurgence in 2019.
Application for a mark with “OK Boomer” is distinguished from that of Lebron James trying to trademark the phrase “Taco Tuesday”. While popular, “Taco Tuesday” is not necessarily a meme. Lebron thus will likely face different hurdles for registration at the USPTO than those applicants applying for the “OK, Boomer” mark.
Similarly, application for a mark with “OK Boomer” is distinguished from that of Whitney Simmons owning a trademark for the phrase “it’s a beautiful day to be alive.” Before Simmons’s use of the phrase to identify clothing products she sells, the phrase was neither extremely popular nor was it meme-worthy. Furthermore, her decision to append the phrase “to be alive” after “it’s a beautiful day” could have been what persuaded the reviewing attorney at the USPTO not to deny registration, asserting the mark conveyed ordinary or familiar concepts or sentiments.