Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Business
Pursuits

There's Basically Nothing You Can Say That Isn't Trademarked

There's Basically Nothing You Can Say That Isn't Trademarked
Illustration by 731 Lexington

Can you confidently say that you have never in your life said the words “It’s gonna be awesome”? If not, then you may be on shaky legal ground, as the phrase is trademarked. Benjamin Palmer, the stylishly disheveled chief executive of Barbarian Group, a digital marketing and creative agency in New York, says his colleagues initially registered his favorite catchphrase on a lark.

In the early days of the company, which was founded in 2001, Palmer would routinely use the phrase in project proposals. “I would write up conceptual treatments: ‘Here’s the idea—we think it’ll take six weeks and cost $200,000.’ I thought it was kind of a bummer to end a creative proposal with a price tag, so I always ended with ‘It’s gonna be awesome.’” The phrase soon became an office meme that culminated when Palmer’s colleagues dropped a stack of papers on his desk as a gift. “They had filed for an international trademark for ‘It’s gonna be awesome,’ kind of as a joke because it had gotten so ingrained in our culture.”