Katy Perry impressed fans with her strong vocals and bright production during her halftime performance at the 2015 Super Bowl, but what really made the news the next day were the dancers dressed in shark costumes behind the superstar. Mere hours after the performance social media sites were flooded with images of the sharks, especially the one on the left hand side who was affectionately titled Left Shark. As the trend grew, Katy Perry tried to trademark the likeness of her Left Shark; however, David Collier of the United States Trademark Office denied her request.
Collier claims Perry’s Left Shark description in her trademark request was too vague and did not go into enough detail regarding what exactly the “Fireworks” chanteuse wanted ownership of. He went on to explain that there were some confusing details regarding what the musician wanted to claim ownership of due to a lack of details in her request. Perry’s team also had some discrepancies in a hand rendered drawing that they submitted to the Trademark Office that led to additional questions regarding what Perry was looking to trademark.
The drawing that was submitted featured a variety of different characteristics, including a different eye shape and number of gills. The differences in details and lack of specific wording in her request led to Perry’s first attempt to trademark the Left Shark to be denied. Collier did say that Katy Perry would be able to apply again once she was able to better define the brand and describe what exactly she would be barring others from recreating. One example that he cited was what Perry meant by costumes. “Do ‘costumes’ refer to Halloween costumes or just dance outfits,” he pondered.
Katy Perry made the move to trademark Left Shark once she saw that business people were recreating the likeness in an effort to make a profit. One such example was a man who had created 3-D-printed figurines that he was selling. Perry also posed in front of a trashcan painted to resemble Left Shark while at Coachella’s first week of festivities.
Whether or not Perry will reapply for ownership of the character remains to be seen, but it is safe to add Perry’s request to a list of other trademark requests made by fellow celebrities. Most recently Taylor Swift attempted to claim ownership of the phrase “this sick beat,” which is featured heavily in her song “Shake It Off.” Swift also requested several other phrases from her 1989 album. Paris Hilton has also attempted to trademark her catchphrase “that’s hot” in the past. The Left Shark saga is sure to continue in some way.
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