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Essay on Taylor Swift: Issues of Trademarked Song Lyrics

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A world-famous American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is not only famous for her musical creations, but she is also well-known for her methods of ensuring her musical property serves her financial interests. Unlike many other artists, who are making living out of their creative work, Taylor Swift as a wise person with a capitalistic mindset, has been testing the limits of the law by developing an unconventional strategy to prevent other people and enterprises to make a profit from her song lyrics without her permission – she has registered trademarks of the phrases from her most popular songs. Some examples of 36 registration applications (of which nearly half are satisfied by now) of her are: 'Party Like It's 1989', 'This Sick Beat', ''Cause We Never Go Out of Style' 'Could Show You Incredible Things', 'Swiftmas' and 'Nice to Meet You, Where You Been'. In her own words, she has registered these trademarks in order to have control over the production and marketing of goods like clothes, accessories, and other merchandise that have any of these phrases printed on them. The move itself is not so unusual, since there have been other artists who have tried to register the names or lyrics of their songs as trademarks, but the distinction of this act is based on the fact that the actual purpose of such attempts is not so much about to protect the intellectual property against exploitation, but about to expand the line of products.

A legal definition of trademark according to U.S. Code § 1127 is following:

A trademark is any word, name, symbol, design, or any combination thereof, used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from those of another and to indicate the source of the goods.

As we can see, the trademark law’s aim is to prevent consumers from being confused about the origin of products. That means that in this specific case, the open question is when people hear these trademarked phrases, whether they associate these with Taylor Swift or not, and how to make sure that in certain cases these phrases are not meant to be used in some other context that is not related to Taylor Swift’s music in any way.

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It is clear, that Swift does not have the absolute right to these trademarked sentences. While those words may have become her property, it's not a sole right over these words, no matter how much Taylor Swift would like them to be. She can get the trademark of 20 different products (phrases from her songs), but it does not mean, that people can't use them in any other context than those that are related to her creative assets.

The singer seems to have opted to trademark her song lyrics rather than copyright them for a specific reason - the copyright law, which gives rights for lyrics, does not apply to words and short sentences. That means that copyrighting a song's title is difficult because it is a short sentence, although there is no such problem with copyrighting the entire lyrics.

If we consider the legality of the trademarks Taylor Swift by their suitability with articles 4 and 5 of the directive (EU) 2015/2436 of the European Parliament and of the Council, there has not been determined any clause according to which we could have doubt about the legality of these registered trademarks. There has not been a set term, that says, that there are any qualities of something like song lyrics that make these inappropriate to register as a trademark. According to this fact, it is possible to say that unusality does not always mean illegal or legally complicated. The unexpectedness of this specific case is not based on the fact that that it should be technically somehow different from other trademark registrations, but just the idea of how it is possible to connect musical artwork with business and the thought that some trademarks can consist of song lyrics might seem strange. The unusual thing in this particular case is the way of developing the trademark. Regularly the trademarks are designed by marketing specialists or some other kind of brand-developing experts for enabling clients to differentiate their company’s goods and services from the ones that other enterprises offer, but Taylor Swift’s trademarks are above all some pieces of artwork, which were created first and foremost in order to give some aesthetic pleasure not to especially distinct her songs from other artist’s songs.

In conclusion, it is possible to say that there is not much that makes it technically anyhow more difficult to register pieces of artistic work as trademarks instead of taking these under copyright than to protect any other intellectual property in such a way. Although trademarks law was originally not meant to be applied in order to serve the financial purposes of artists this way, it can not be said that there is anything immoral or inappropriate about it. Acting in such a way is quite extraordinary, yet Taylor Swift’s financial activities for protecting her intellectual property are a good example for other artists to follow. By seeking out trademarks for her song lyrics, Swift’s behavior brings out the purpose of intellectual property. She is setting an example for all artists by disallowing others to profit by using her name, lyrics, and likeness. As she takes a stand against intellectual stealing, Swift shows the world the importance of protecting one’s work and the value of a trademark. Trademarks’ purpose also is to protect consumers. By developing trademarks, Swift helps buyers to know the origin of their purchases. People might want to support artists not only for their music but also for their other activities like political and ideological appearance. If someone buys merchandise directly from the artist, the person knows he or she is supporting not only the music but also some certain ideology or beliefs with the purchase.

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Essay on Taylor Swift: Issues of Trademarked Song Lyrics. (2023, April 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 11, 2023, from
“Essay on Taylor Swift: Issues of Trademarked Song Lyrics.” Edubirdie, 21 Apr. 2023,
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