Helga Esteb /
4 July 2014Trademarks

Tyler Perry wins ‘What would Jesus do’ trademark

Actor and director Tyler Perry has won the trademark rights to the phrase ‘What would Jesus do’.

The trademark to the phrase was originally registered by Kimberley Kearney in January 2008 for a Christian reality show. Kearney claims to have shown the idea to Tyler Perry Studios, which later attempted to trademark it in May 2008.

Perry applied for a cancellation of Kearney’s trademark two years after it was registered, claiming non-use. He argued that Kearney “has never used or has discontinued use of the mark with no intent to resume said use, thus abandoning the mark”.

In his application for cancellation, Perry made requests for admission that Kearney’s trademark restricted his own application and that she has not produced a television programme under the trademark.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board did not receive an answer to requests for admission from Kearney and the court “conclusively established” that Kearney did not use the trademark for “entertainment services in the nature of an ongoing reality-based television programme”.

The ‘What Would Jesus Do’ phrase first appeared in Charles Sheldon’s novel In His Steps, published in 1896, but was later popularised in the US in the 1990’s, appearing on bracelets under the abbreviation 'WWJD'. Perry’s trademark will only apply to television programmes, films and musicals.

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