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Lizzo gets to trademark ‘100% that bitch’

By | Published on Friday 3 February 2023


Ladies and gentlemen, Lizzo is officially 100% that bitch. Legally speaking, I mean. Not scientifically. I’m still not convinced by that DNA test thing. To the best of my knowledge, that test still hasn’t been peer reviewed. Which is very suspicious. Very suspicious indeed.

But fuck the science, all that really matters is the law. And Lizzo is now the owner of the ‘100% that bitch’ trademark in the US in the category of fashion. So only she can sell clothing with that line printed on it.

Now, you might be thinking, so what, Lizzo got her people to fill out a trademark application form to turn the key lyric from her song ‘Truth Hurts’ into a protected mark under US law, why’s that news?

Well, because it took quite a lot of effort. The application was initially rejected on the basis ‘100% that bitch’ is “a commonplace expression widely used by a variety of sources to convey an ordinary, familiar, well-recognised sentiment”.

“The evidence of record indicates that consumers will not view applicant’s mark as a trademark indicating the source of the clothing only sold by applicant, but instead as a message of self-confidence and female empowerment used by many different entities in a variety of settings”, the official who did the rejecting noted.

That official also honed in on the fact that Lizzo’s full lyric – “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch” – wasn’t original, it being influenced by a meme on social media that began with a tweet by British singer Mina Lioness.

Lizzo herself has talked about being influenced by the social media meme when writing ‘Truth Hurts’. And the fact the line came from Lioness’s tweet became a talking point online and was raised during a dispute between Lizzo and some of her former songwriting collaborators over the copyright in ‘Truth Hurts’. Along the way, Lioness got a co-write credit on the song.

The trademark official stated: “Lizzo is quoted that after seeing the meme containing the phrase it made her feel empowered, ie the phrase ‘made her feel like 100% that bitch'”.

“By applicant’s own acknowledgment”, he went on, “she adopted these lyrics because of the message of female empowerment, and the party claiming prior use of the full lyric was given a co-ownership to the copyright of the lyrics”.

“Accordingly”, he concluded, “the phrase ‘100% that bitch’, as used by applicant, originated as a derivation of the popular phrase ‘that bitch’, which was widely shared throughout social media by internet users”.

But worry not bitches, because the US Trademark Trial And Appeal Board has concluded that – while Lizzo may not have come up with the line ‘100% that bitch’ – it was ‘Truth Hurts’ that made it super popular, and – as a result – plenty of consumers would associate clothing featuring the phrase with the musician. That latter point is key here.

“The evidence here does not show that consumers recognise ‘100% that bitch’ merely as a lyric in one of Lizzo’s popular songs”, the board has ruled. “Rather, we find that the evidence of record shows that consumers encountering ‘100% that bitch’ on the specific types of clothing identified in the application – even when offered by third parties – associate the term with Lizzo and her music”.

“We acknowledge that to some degree consumers and potential consumers have been exposed to use of the proposed mark ‘100% that bitch’ in a non-source-identifying (ie ornamental) manner on the same and similar goods to those of applicant. We find, however, that that circumstance is outweighed by references in most of those uses to Lizzo and/or her music”.

As a result, “the record as a whole does not establish that the proposed mark is a common expression in such widespread use that it fails to function as a mark for the goods identified in this application. So the refusals to register are reversed”.

And hurrah for that. Well done to 100% that bitch.