Nintendo Tries To Trademark “It’s On Like Donkey Kong”

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Ice Cube’s “Now I Gotta Wet’Cha,” the country song “Hony Tonk Badonkadonk” and the trailer for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World don’t have a lot in common, but there’s one uniting thread among the trio: All three use the meaningless sing-song phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong.” Now, if Nintendo gets its way, this innocuous practice might come to an end: The video game company is trying to trademark the phrase, saying that it’s part of their intellectual property. (More on Techland: Top 10 Failed Gaming Consoles)

As CNN reports:

Nintendo claims that the catchphrase “is an old, popular Nintendo phrase that has a number of possible interpretations depending on how it’s used.”

“In addition to Nintendo’s use, it has been used in popular music, television and film over the years, pointing to Donkey Kong’s status as an enduring pop-culture icon and video game superstar,” [the company] said Wednesday in a written release.

The timing of the move (and the fishy way that the statement goes out of its way to talk up the Donkey Kong franchise) has raised eyebrows; with a new installment, Donkey Kong Country Returns, on the way later this month, could this just be a canny publicity stunt? (In which case: Oops, we fell for it.)

If it’s not, though, and Nintendo is seriously considering trademarking the phrase based on some unknown business strategy, we are skeptical. This would seem to be another  example of a corporation short-sightedly going to war with its fans to exert total control over its creations. It’s not the only goal of a company certainly, (making money is up there too) but shouldn’t engendering goodwill among its customers be a high priority for a business? (More on Techland: Strong Kinect-ion?: First Impressions of Microsoft’s New Motion-Control Camera)

One final wrinkle: As far as we know, “It’s on like Donkey Kong” was not actually invented by Nintendo. Under our admittedly small knowledge of copyright law, wouldn’t that make it very hard for them to trademark it? (via New York magazine)

More on Time.com:

The Mythology of Mario: Q&A With Nintendo’s Legendary Shigeru Miyamoto

Kids Games You Never Thought Would Turn Into Movies

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