It amazes me that companies still have the bollocks to trademark plain English phrases. It's nothing new, they do it all the time. The latest case: Apple has been awarded a trademark for "There's an app for that."
According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark is a "word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods of one party from those of others". That means that if any other company wants to use that phrase in this context...
Retail store services featuring computer software provided via the Internet and other computer and electronic communication networks; retail store services featuring computer software for use on handheld mobile digital electronic devices and other consumer electronics.
...they won't be able to do it. In fact, if they say anything remotely similar, like, "There's an app for this", Apple would be able to send their rabid legal dogs of prey to hunt them down.
Trademarks are good for commerce, both for companies and consumers. Obviously, they are very important for marketing products. They are part of both the sales pitch and the product experience, which is why companies spend a lot of money building them up, creating an image around them. That is why it's perfectly justifiable that Xerox or Rollerblade want to keep their brands as a trademark instead of losing it to common language use.
But trademarking a simple English phrase, especially after it has been made into a catchphrase by the public, is a different matter. Like, "There's an app for that." Sure, it may be legal and doable, but should it be done? Can a company claim ownership of a phrase for a number of uses whenever they want to just because they have the money to do so? How far this kind of regulation can go?
My answer is the same as Mr Cash's. Discuss yours in the comments.