Harvard trademarking everyday phrases

Aug. 1, 2009 at 3:46 PM

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Harvard University's moves to seek U.S. trademarks for everyday phrases such as "Ask what you can do" are defensive measures, a school official says.

The university has poured a lot of money into basing its promotional and advertising campaigns on such phrases as "Ask what you can do," which was famously uttered by President John F. Kennedy in his 1960 inaugural speech, as well as "Lessons learned" and "Managing yourself," The Boston Globe reported Saturday.

So, Rick Calixto, director of the Harvard Trademark Program, says the university needs to move aggressively to trademark the phrases to protect the investments it has made in its branding efforts.

"Since we're spending so much time and money to promote this phrase, we just want to make sure someone doesn't say we can't use it," he told the Globe, adding that a trademark has even been submitted for the phrase, "The world's thinking," even though Harvard isn't using it in any current campaigns.

"You need to reserve something in case you intend to use it," he said. "We're strategically protecting it for use at some point down the line.''

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