Days before singer and songwriter Lizzo won her fourth Grammy, this time for Record of the Year for her hit song “About Damn Time,” the singer was celebrating another victory. She now owns the trademark for a catchphrase from her 2017 hit “Truth Hurts” and will be able to capitalize on saying that she made it popular.
On Thursday, Feb. 2, after applying eight times, the singer, whose real name is Mellissa Jefferies, was granted a trademark by the office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, according to Forbes.
100% That B##ch!
The phrase from the chart-topping song that was so important to her brand that she refused to relinquish her claim to “100% THAT Bitch.” On her application, she claimed people would “associate the term with Lizzo and her music” even if coming from someone other than her or her team.
According to the Trademark Electronic Search System, she first submitted for the trademark almost four years ago on June 10, 2019.
As recently as 2022, her application was denied, with the agency ruling the phrase was a “commonplace expression” and far too widely used to warrant a trademark.
Lawyers reviewing the application argued that the phrase is “a message of self-confidence and female empowerment,” which fans “may associate” with Lizzo, but “does not entitle the applicant as a singer-songwriter to appropriate for itself exclusive use of the phrase.”
But it became hard to stand by that argument against Lizzo as she and her team submitted evidence that her popularity as an artist and the massive reception of the song went hand-in-hand with the phrase.
Though the song was written in 2017, it did not become a Billboard Hot 100 until 2019. Also, “Truth Hurts” not only was the flautist’s first No. 1 hit, but it is her longest-running No. 1 song, staying on the top of the chart for seven weeks.
The USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board made a radical reversal in their decision, writing, “Considering the entirety of the record, we find that most consumers would perceive 100% THAT Bitch used on the goods in the application as associated with Lizzo rather than as a commonplace expression.”
They further added, “All of the evidence of record regarding third-party use of 100% THAT Bitch is from 2017 or later. The Urban Dictionary entry for the term is dated June 12, 2019. Thus, the evidence is contemporaneous with or subsequent to the release of Lizzo’s hit single ‘Truth Hurts.’
“There is no evidence of use of the term 100% THAT Bitch prior to 2017, so we have no indication that the proposed mark already was ‘widely used, over a long period of time and by a large number of merchandisers’ before Lizzo popularized it,” the board explained.
Share the Wealth
While she now has the rights to make apparel and other items with the trademark, she did not create the phrase. She was inspired by a meme that was lifted from a Twitter user.
She barks in the song, “I just took a DNA test. Turns out, I’m 100% that b—h,” but social media influencer and singer Mina Lioness came up with the phrase in a post online. The term became popular and then as a viral saying found itself in meme history.
Lizzo decided in 2019, after learning the origins of the phrase, divided-up publishing splits with Lioness, a move that now affords the creative royalties off of the sale of the song.
“The creator of the tweet is the person I am sharing my success with,” Lizzo said.
Whom she didn’t share her success with were producers Justin and Jeremiah Raisen, who claimed they helped write “Truth Hurts,” including the now trademarked bit. After suing them for what she believed were “false claims” and a “campaign of harassment,” the two parties finally agreed to a settlement in 2022.
The Billboard darling currently has a net worth of $40 million, according to Cosmopolitan. Most of her money comes from her publishing career, mostly synched up with her “Truth Hurts” single.
The RIAA states the 34-year-old has sold 16.5 million certified units in digital singles and is now one of the music industry’s top-earning artists.
She also makes money from touring.
Her “Cuz I Love You Too” in 2019 made $8.8 million and sold 175,022 tickets throughout the country. By the end of 2019, Lizzo’s tour was one of the biggest in the nation, with a total of $10.8 million and 243,789 tickets.
This is not even considering her television and movie appearances like her role in “Hustler” and the Emmy-winning series “Lizzo’s Watch Out for The Big Grrrls” tour, and endorsement deals like Dove for the Dove Self Esteem.
Her achievements seem to be unstoppable.
In 2019, at the beginning of her illustrious career, she also trademarked her unique name, Lizzo. She has the rights to use her nickname to make clothes Clothing, footwear, and headgear, one of the first signs that she actually is #100%ThatB##ch!