It's a story you might expect to hear in a whacky TV show, not in real life – the phrase "Jesus loves nachos" has been trademarked.
Yes, you read that right. Jesus loves nachos. What's the story behind this bizarre piece of intellectual property?
When graffiti becomes iconic
Toni Tapp Coutts is a resident of the Northern Territory town of Katherine, as well the holder of the aforementioned trademark. Coutts spent eight months and a fair amount of money from her own pocket trying to get the phrase registered.
Why? For the sake of local history, and an eye towards tourism promotion. The phrase was spray painted onto a bridge in Katherine in the 1980s and has become something Katherine is known for. Tapp Coutts said her reasoning for the trademark was simple.
"I want to keep the story alive and give it its own little piece in the world. Because it's fading, you can barely see it now and somehow I'd like to get it repainted back onto the bridge" she told ABC News in early March.
The phrase's origin is just as bizarre as the phrase itself. Members of a Christian convention originally wrote "Jesus loves" on the bridge. Later on, Tapp Coutts explained to the Guardian, "someone added 'nachos'. Because it seemed like a good thing to do, obviously."
The value of trademarks
While something of a bizarre case, it made perfect sense for Mrs Tapp Coutts to trademark the phrase. If it had taken off as a tourism slogan, there would always be the risk that someone else could trademark the phrase instead, robbing the town of Katherine of a potentially valuable marketing phrase.
If your business has a phrase or term that's a) often used in your marketing and b) specific and strongly linked to your brand, it's worth seeking a trademark. While they can be either registered (where they're protected under the Trademarks act) or unregistered (where they're protected under common and consumer protection laws), having the former makes protecting it in a legal setting much easier.
It's likely your IP isn't something as odd as a phrase about the Messiah loving a Mexican dish, but it's still worthy of protection. For more information on how we can help protect your intellectual property, get in touch with the team at Alder IP today.