I just came across a news story about how Paris Hilton had chosen to sue Hallmark Cards for using the phrase "that's hot" on one of their greeting cards.
In response, here's what I would love to say to her, if she and I should ever meet:
"Paris, you brainless bimbo, you did not invent the phrase 'that's hot'. People were using that phrase long before you were ever born. So kindly explain why you now think that you have an exclusive right to use that common-as-dirt phrase and to sue others who use it without your permission."
I felt the same way when I saw that McDonalds had "trademarked" the phrase, "I'm lovin' it." I mean, come on. The folks at McDonalds basically borrowed that phrase from street culture and made it their own. Anyone who thinks that no one had ever used that phrase prior to hearing it in a McDonald's commercial is seriously clueless.
Hey, I have an idea. I think I'll trademark common phrases such as "I love you," "Season's Greetings" and so forth. Then every time any greeting card company wants to use those phrases in the future, they'll have to pay me royalties. In fact, I'll get royalties whenever any husband tells his wife that he loves her. Now won't that be peachy! With the windfall I'm sure to make from all of the lawsuits I'm sure to win, I'll never have to work another day in my life.
Of course, I'm being sarcastic, because I would never actually do such a thing. I believe in copyright protection for genuinely creative people, but a legal system which allows people to claim exclusive rights over phrases which are commonly used by numerous English speaking people is a legal system which has run amuck.
Now all I have to do is pray that no one has trademarked the phrase "run amuck".