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Is Nintendo Serious About Trademarking 'It's On Like Donkey Kong'?

Nintendo announced yesterday that it had filed a trademark for the catch-phrase, "It's On Like Donkey Kong." 

The announcement was quickly picked up by many news outlets and became one of the top five trending topics on Twitter. Yes, a trademark story is worldwide news! 

Normally, an item like this would lead to charges that the company is being overly aggressive. But instead, most people seemed to allow Nintendo to score some points for creating the game that led to the phrase, which has been used in an Ice Cube song, American Wedding, and, most recently, in Universal's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

That said, did Nintendo really file a trademark application? We couldn't find one on the USPTO's website. Was it a PR hoax to promote the Nov. 21 release of Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii? Could be. Nintendo hasn't responded to a request for comment.

Our favorite theory comes from a commenter at Slashdot, who wrote: "it could also be as simple as someone in marketing deciding to use the phrase in advertisements (as a pop culture reference and nothing more), and the legal team, entirely by force of habit, attempting to trademark every last letter on the advertisement copy on a just-in-case-it-works basis."

That sounds entirely plausible.

Still — and maybe we're taking this a little too seriously — we'd be curious to read the actual trademark application to see if the company really did its due diligence on prior art. After all, Nintendo didn't originate the phrase. No, the company just wants to capitalize on a phrase that's been in use in film, television, and music for nearly two decades. Either that, or joke about it. Should they really be getting a pass for this?