Lizzo Is Now – Legally Speaking – ‘100% That B-tch’
A federal tribunal at the U.S. Patent and Trademark office has granted the singer exclusive rights to use the phrase on apparel.
Lizzo is now — legally speaking — 100% that b-tch.
In a decision issued Thursday (Feb. 2), a tribunal at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled that the superstar could register “100% That B-tch” as a federal trademark for clothing — meaning Lizzo will soon have exclusive rights to use the phrase on apparel.
Last year, the agency rejected Lizzo’s application for the trademark on the grounds that it was merely a commonplace “motivational phrase” aimed at “female empowerment,” not the kind of unique brand name that’s eligible for trademark protection.
But the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) overturned that ruling Thursday, saying that people who see the phrase on a t-shirt would immediately think of Lizzo.
“Consumers encountering ‘100% That B-tch’ on the specific types of clothing identified in the application ― even when offered by third parties ― associate the term with Lizzo and her music,” the appeals board wrote in its ruling.
Lizzo included the famed lyric — “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that b-tch” — in her breakout smash hit “Truth Hurts,” but she didn’t actually didn’t come up with it herself. Instead, the singer pulled it from a popular internet meme, and she has since given its creator — Mina Lioness — songwriting credit on the hit track.
In refusing to give Lizzo the trademark, the USPTO had pointed out that backstory, arguing that even if the singer “popularized” the phrase, she was still not entitled to legally “appropriate” it for her own exclusive use on consumer goods.
But in Thursday’s decision, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board disagreed — ruling that Lizzo had clearly “popularized the lyric” and elevated “a lesser known phrase” into “more memorable status.”
“Lizzo did not originate the expression she encountered as a Twitter meme,” the board wrote. “Nonetheless, lyrics from songs are more likely to be attributed to the artists who sing, rap or otherwise utter them, rather than the songwriters.”
An attorney for Lizzo did not immediately return a request for comment. The USPTO does not comment on rulings by the TTAB.
Read the entire decision here: