Olympic swimmer and perennial headline-maker Ryan Lochte is attempting to trademark his catchphrase "Jeah."
"It means, like, almost, like, everything," Lochte said, trying to explain the word's meaning in a 2009 YouTube video. "Like happy. Like, if you have a good swim, you say, 'Jeah.' Like, it's good. So, I guess ... it means good."
According to papers filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier in August, Lochte wants to reserve the phrase, for items such as sunglasses, workout DVDs, jewelry, mugs and water bottles, T-shirts, and a whole host of other clothing and collectible items.
It is becoming more and more common for professional athletes to attempt to trademark unique aspects of themselves for the purpose of merchandising.
In March, Anthony Davis, the first NBA's overall draft pick in 2012, trademarked the phrases "Fear the brow," and "Raise the brow," both referencing his famously unwaxed eyebrows. A savvy Jeremy Lin, the surprise star of the New York Knicks last season, trademarked his "Linsanity" moniker a mere five games into the season. (He did go to Harvard, after all.)
However, Lochte may not have quite the open lane he'd hoped for as far as his application is concerned. The swimmer has always claimed he came up with the word after being inspired by rapper Young Jeezy's use of the similar-sounding "Chea" in his videos. But TMZ, who broke the patent story first, reports that another rapper has come forward claiming he's been using "Jeah" since Lochte was a child.
MC Eiht, leader of the pioneering gangsta rap group Compton's Most Wanted, told the website that he's been using the phrase since 1988.
"Why try and trademark something his ass didn’t even create? I am mad that he isn’t giving me proper recognition for taking my saying. He is just disrespectful," MC Eiht said. Reached by TMZ for comment, Lochte's manager said this was the first he'd ever heard of MC Eiht's complaint.
American University Law School's Intellectual Property Brief blog reports that while the move to trademark the phrase might seem "silly," if MC Eiht never filed his own trademark, there's probably little he can do to stop Lochte's paperwork going forward.
"In this light, Lochte’s silly application to trademark his nonsensical catchphrase looks like it will go swimmingly," the IP Brief's Jess Robinson notes.