I once had a very interesting conversation with Gene Simmons of KISS about business savvy.
"You ever play Monopoly?" he asked.
"Sure. Who hasn't?"
"Well, you know the little guy with the moustache carrying around the bag with the dollar sign on it? How many times have you seen that image? The bag, I mean. With the dollar sign on it."
"Hundreds of times. Thousands," I replied.
"Well, let me tell you a secret," he said, leaning back with a satisfied grin.
"I did a trademark search and I found out that no one owned that image of a bag with a dollar sign on it. So I filed for it and got it. That's my image. Now whenever anyone wants to use an icon, picture or whatever with a bag featuring a dollar sign, they have to deal with me."
Now how many times have you heard/seen/read the phrase "born to rock" in a song/magazine/article/t-shirt? Plenty, I'm sure. We've run into a similar situation with that. Not with Gene, though. With a guitar design company. From Ars Technica:
A guitar design firm called Born to Rock has won an initial victory over the user-generated T-shirt-printing website CafePress in a legal battle over whether CafePress users will be allowed to use the company's name as part of their T-shirt designs. While the guitar firm initially registered the phrase only for use selling guitars, it has taken the position that any use of the phrase "born to rock" by a CafePress user infringes its trademarks.
CafePress is a popular website that allows users to create their own graphical designs and have them printed on T-shirts, mugs, and other items. It sells these items on users' behalf and splits the proceeds.