Tyler Perry — maker of all terrible “Madea” movies in existence — has successfully trademarked and now owns the question, “What Would Jesus Do?”
The United States Patent and Trademark Office announced Tyler Perry the winner in a battle for ownership of the phrase. Reality star Kimberly Kearney filed for ownership of the mark in 2008, and a few months later Perry did the same thing, under the “category of entertainment services, mentioning in his filing, live concerts, a TV program and motion pictures.”
Because Kearney had registered it for a TV show that never premiered, Perry’s lawyers said “she wasn’t really using it” and asked the USPTO to cancel it. Arguments ensued, with Kearney saying Perry stole the idea from her after she shared it with Tyler Perry Studios, but the office said her allegations were “unsupported.”
The famous imperative, which dates back to an 1896 use in a book by Charles Sheldon, was never copyrighted until Kearney’s attempt in 2008. Perry did include a disclaimer in his registration, saying he was not attempting ownership on the exclusive right to use “Jesus.”
Of course, Perry is now under the same obligations Kearney was–use it or lose it.
Now the real question is, What Will Tyler Perry Do?