You're fired!" I just wanted to put those words in print one last time, while it's still legal for me to do so.
According to a news item published on the Internet site "The Smoking Gun," billionaire Donald Trump plans to trademark the line from his TV show "The Apprentice."
The article said Trump wants to register "You're fired" and "You're fired! Donald J. Trump" as a trademark or service mark for use in connection with "games and playthings," casinos and clothing.
Now, I'm all for protecting intellectual property. I mean, I feel guilty on the rare occasions when I copy a CD from a friend instead of buying the album. But trademarking "you're fired" seems a little ridiculous.
It's not like Trump coined the phrase. I'm sure those two little words have been heard by countless unfortunate employees throughout the years. But now, because the words have become the signature line of "The Apprentice," Trump wants the exclusive right to use them on games, toys and T-shirts.
One might question why Trump feels the need for this. After all, he already has a net worth approximately equivalent to the economy of the entire Third World.
But besides the pragmatic questions, there's also a matter of principle. If Trump can trademark such a common phrase, what's to prevent anyone from trademarking anything?
For instance, sometimes when talking to my family or a significant other, I'll say, "I love you." So, I think I'll trademark "I love you" so that anyone who uses this phrase commercially will have to first get express written consent from me.
Actually, I'll trademark not only "I love you," but also "I ?heart' you" "heart" representing the heart shape often substituted for the word "love" on teddy bears and such.
But rather than simply prohibiting people from using these phrases, I'll charge them to use my trademarked property. Imagine how much money I could make all the greeting cards that say "I love you;" all the stuffed animals, balloons, mugs, pens, etc. that say "I heart you."
I also sometimes say, "Confound it!" when I get frustrated. Another reporter once told me I'm the only one he's ever heard say that. Thus, since it is apparently a signature line, I think I'll trademark "Confound it!"
Of course if, as my colleague said, I'm the only one who ever says that, I guess there's not really a lot of use in trademarking it.
And here's a random thought that struck me (I get struck by a lot of random thoughts so many that I'm thinking about wearing a helmet): What if George Frideric Handel, who wrote "The Hallelujah Chorus," had tried to trademark "Hallelujah."
If I'm not mistaken, "hallelujah" is Hebrew for "Praise the Lord." Therefore, trademarking it would entail trademarking one of the names for God.
That would be quite an ambitious move. But the arrogance and self-importance revealed in trying to trademark such a common phrase as "you're fired" might attempt anything.
So frankly, if I were the guy in charge of the trademark office, and one of my underlings came to me and said he was thinking about granting Trump's request, I'd just have to say, "You're fired."
Clay Wilson is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.