Nintendo Wants To Trademark "It's On Like Donkey Kong"

Even though people have been using the phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong” for two decades, Nintendo has just gotten around to filing a request with the Patent and Trademark office to slap a little “TM” on those words.

From CNN:

Nintendo claims that the catchphrase “is an old, popular Nintendo phrase that has a number of possible interpretations depending on how it’s used.”

“In addition to Nintendo’s use, it has been used in popular music, television and film over the years, pointing to Donkey Kong’s status as an enduring pop-culture icon and video game superstar,” they said Wednesday in a written release.

As the report points out, it’s a little hard to overlook the fact that this filing comes less than two weeks before the Nov. 21 release of Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Meanwhile, we’re just reminded of how much we used to listen to Ice Cube in high school:

Nintendo seeks to trademark ‘On like Donkey Kong’ [CNN]


Edit Your Comment

  1. FrugalFreak says:

    New Term- “it’s on like DooM”

  2. obits3 says:

    Who dat think it’s on like Donkey Kong?

  3. KingPsyz says:

    So a phrase made by Ice Cube, what almost 20 years ago, is going to be ©’d by a company who named their character to avoid © suits and who won a lawsuit because the original IP was deemed public works….

    Makes sense, did they take it to that court in Tejass too?

    • CoachTabe says:

      Apparently understanding the differences between trademarks and copyrights is beyond you, eh?

    • Billy says:

      Let me fix that for you.

      Nintendo’s trademarked term (Donkey Kong) was co-opted into some lyrics, “it’s on like Donkey Kong” almost 20 years ago. The phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong” is going to be TM’d by a Nintendo who named their character, not in an effort to avoid trademark suits, but, most likely because of poor English to Japanese translations. Nintendo will be using the term in commerce (unlike Ice Cube…or anyone else).

      Nintendo was, in fact, sued by Universal (so much for avoiding lawsuits), and Nintendo won lawsuit for a variety of issues. None of those issues had to do with “public works”. Public works are something else entirely.

      • KingPsyz says:

        They won the lawsuit nitwit because years earlier MCA argued in court that King Kong was public works to avoid another suit of some sort.

        from wikipedia:
        “In Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd., MCA Universal sued Nintendo over copyright violations, claiming that Donkey Kong was a copy of King Kong. Nintendo’s lawyer, Howard Lincoln, who would go on to become a Senior Vice President of the company, discovered that Universal didn’t own the copyright to King Kong either, and was able to not only win the lawsuit (as well as several court appeals), but get Universal to pay the legal costs. Ironically, it was MCA Universal that previously won a lawsuit declaring King Kong was in the public domain. The case was an enormous victory for Nintendo, which was still a newcomer to the U.S. market. The case established Nintendo as a major player in the industry and arguably gave the company the confidence that it could compete with the giants of American media.[2] The case was selected as #20 on GameSpy’s list of the 25 Dumbest Moments in Gaming.[3]”

        • LandruBek says:

          No no no. Public works are things like bridges and sewer systems: stuff built with public money for use by the public. When a creative work belongs to everyone, we say it is in the public domain.

          With that word you use, nitwit, beware of the boomerang effect.

          • Billy says:

            Not only that, but he ignores the rest of his source which indicates that the courts held that even if it wasn’t in the public domain (not public work), there would not be a significant confusion between Donkey Kong and King Kong.

  4. GuJiaXian says:

    Okay, I must reveal my ignorance: what does the phrase mean?

  5. SimplyStating says:

    Stunts companies use for publicity in 3…. 2…..1…..

  6. Macgyver says:

    What the hell does that even mean?
    How can you trademark this? Or even think about trademarking it?
    This whole trademarking, and patent system needs to be fix.

  7. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Thankfully, porn pseudonym “Long Dong Donkey Kong” is currently safe.

  8. Limewater says:

    If I had to guess, this is related to that Oreo ad last year, where Peyton Manning says it.

    • smartmuffin says:


    • Red Cat Linux says:

      It’s been around a lot longer than that, but when I saw that commercial I had not heard it in so long Peyton Manning owed me a new keyboard.

      • Limewater says:

        I didn’t mean that the saying was originated in the Oreo commercial. Rather, that the decision by Nintendo to pursue a trademark for the saying was possibly influenced by the advertisement. I can imagine that they weren’t crazy about one of my characters being casually mentioned in an ad for another product that likely didn’t pay any licensing fee or obviously note who owns the IP.

  9. cash_da_pibble says:

    It’s on like…

    Michelle Kwan?
    Simon LeBon?
    Charles Bron-Sawn?

  10. W10002 says:

    They also need to trademark ‘It’s on like Pokemon’, just in case.

    • obits3 says:


      Gotta catch em all!

    • Cyniconvention says:

      I approve of this new catchphrase.

      & Do any of the creatures end with the letters -mon anyway?

      • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

        Digimon was the one that had most of the monster names ending in “mon” … or all of them. Pokémon has only a few creature names ending in “mon,” and tends to use, at least in English, descriptive portmanteaus and the like to name the various species. (“Dratini,” for example, being a combination of “dragon” and “tiny,” and “Arcanine” being derived from “arcane” and “canine”)

  11. Buckus says:

    I’m not against this. If Pat Riley can TM “Three-peat” Nintendo has every right to TM this.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Or if Michael Buffer can TM “Let’s get ready to RUMMBBBBLLLEEEE!” (please don’t sue me, I can argue Fair Use here) and make some major coin doing so, then why can’t Nintendo TM “it’s on like Donkey Kong” and go after Ice Cube for retroactive royalties? Isn’t that the American definition of intellectual property law?

  12. hotcocoa says:

    Lame sauce. Focus on making good, new shit Nintendo.

  13. Megalomania says:

    As far as I know, the phrase was never used by Nintendo, and its first notable use was by Ice Cube decades ago, and since then it was used in both an American Pie movie and in a Superbowl ad. Nintendo (or at least their North American arm, not sure if NAMCO is still around) only recently co-opted the phrase for the aforementioned game’s marketing. This is just a stupid move that makes me want to never touch a Nintendo product again, although that’s somewhat weakened by that I don’t like anything they’ve made since the N64…

    • maggiemerc says:

      Even the GBA?!

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      1> Namco is still around–a part of Bandai now.
      2> What does Namco have to do with this? The only Namco game ever made that featured Donkey Kong was Mario Kart Arcade GP, which Nintendo licensed them to make. Other than making games that ran on Nintendo systems and that aforementioned game, there is no relation between the two companies.

      • Megalomania says:

        I believe NAMCO, the acronym, was the wholly-owned US subsidiary of Nintendo (“Nintendo of America, Inc” is what I find now, but I think it used to be Nintendo of AMerica COrporation)

  14. jdm says:

    It’s on like Tron.

  15. Jerry Vandesic says:

    You don’t need to file for a trademark to “slap a little ‘TM’ on those words.” All you need to do is use the words as a trademark. An R-in-a-circle, on the other hand, does require that you apply to the USPTO for a registered trademark (the R stands for registered).

  16. Emilliy says:

    Donkey Kong kill screen coming up…

  17. quoterageous says:

    Ohh, snap. I use to say that back in the day. Now just think I can get sued for saying it.. I’m switching up. “it’s on like pokemon!”

  18. Caffinehog says:

    Oh, you wanna trademark that, eh…..


    It’s ON like DONKEY KONG!

  19. TheGary says:

    If “On Like Donkey Kong” is in Ice Cube’s lyrics, wouldn’t the phrase already be copywrited?

  20. humphrmi says:

    It’s on like Pong.

  21. paul says:

    That Donkey Kong Junior cereal was delicious. I used to eat it when I was a kid. Strawberry and banana. Mmmmm.

    • The Porkchop Express says:

      of topic, but does anybody remember a cereal called freakies? it was like lucky charms but aliens instead of magically delicious charm shaped things.

  22. Dyscord says:

    I would think that Nintendo already had a trademark on Donkey Kong.

    I don’t think this is a big deal aside from the fact that it took them so damn long to do it.