In watching LeBron James display his generational talents on a basketball court (last season notwithstanding), I occasionally give thought to a few passing similarities between us. In many (zero) ways, we could be mirrors of one another: both from Ohio (that much is at least accurate), somewhat close in age (sadly, I'm a year closer to forty than he is), both tall (a reach) and gifted at basketball (I can make a few free throws in a row, maybe). Yet our paths diverged, and he has gone on to fame and glory, a mastery of the sports universe that few could ever hope to achieve and a personal brand that now extends into realms beyond the basketball court. But he doesn't have this nifty blog to chronicle his and others' IP exploits, so I've got that going for me.
In response to his series of Instagram videos heralding that greatest of midweek traditions, Taco Tuesday, LeBron has sought to file a trademark on the term. According to ESPN, one of his business entities, LBJ Trademarks, filed the paperwork to pursue the mark in August, capitalizing on LeBron's viral success posting videos of his excitement about Taco Tuesday and the incipient consumption of said tacos. The exact use planned for the phrase remains to be see, although ESPN notes that the filing details potential plans for advertising and marketing involving this most unofficial of holidays.
As might be expected, LeBron is not the first, nor will he be the last, to seek a trademark on the phrase; that same article notes 29 filings on the USPTO website, many abandoned. It is part of a broader trend that has seen celebrities try to claim ownership of phrases and marks that would seem to be part of the greater lexicon, not dissimilar to Kim Kardashian's recent efforts to trademark "kimono". Perhaps that's a somewhat unfair comparison to draw to LeBron's efforts, but it does seem emblematic of that selfsame trend, and as a Phoenix Suns partisan I reserve the right to be deeply unfair to any and all Lakers players and staff. Another grandiose and melodramatic comparison might be the tragedy of the commons, in this case our lexicon increasingly parceled among various corporate and celebrity entities until every part of our language is owned, for the purposes of business at least, by a company looking to make a buck in pure self-interest, rather than letting things purely exist as a public good. In that way, I suppose that LeBron is simply fulfilling his destiny as an embodiment of the American dream.