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‘Twa Twa’ to ‘Mambo Imechemuka’: Celebs who have trademarked catchphrases and names

Actor Abel Mutua’s move to trademark his iconic alias, Mkurugenzi reflects a growing trend among Kenyan personalities who have successfully turned their catchy expressions into legally protected assets.

Trademark is a legal way to ensure other people can’t profit from your original idea or phrase.

In an interview with Nairobi News, Abel announced his intentions to trademark his alias name ‘Mkurugenzi (Director).’

“I am in the process of trademarking it. There will be a few areas where it will not be used, like anything entertainment, adverts, and so on.”

Below is a compilation of celebrities and distinctive catchphrases that have been legally trademarked:

1: Citizen TV presenter Rashid Abdalla

Journalist Rashid unveiled plans to trademark his popular catchphrase, ‘Sisemi Kitu’ (I’m not saying anything).

The slogan, which has become synonymous with Rashid, has evolved into an integral part of his brand identity.

In an exclusive interview with Nairobi News during the launch of his two latest Telenovelas, Zari and Ka-Siri, Rashid explained the significance of his beloved slogan.

He noted that ‘Sisemi Kitu’ serves as a beacon of hope for those who presume to know everything about him.

“In life, whenever you express yourself, there will always be someone with an opinion. Whatever you say, some people may think they have unraveled your true intentions. When I say ‘Sisemi Kitu,’ it’s a gentle reminder not to take it personally. Whether you agree or disagree, life goes on,” Rashid Abdalla remarked.

Rashid added that he has plans to trademark the now-famous slogan.

“I am committed to trademarking this slogan because it represents a message of hope.”

2: Francis Atwoli 

In 2021, the Secretary-General of the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) captured the nation’s attention with his ironic exclamation, ‘Alaa!’, expressing disbelief in a viral interview.

In December 2021, the trade unionist announced his intention to secure exclusive rights for the phrase.

The expression was frequently used by disc jockeys in their mixes.

Atwoli’s personal assistant revealed that even deejays must seek his authorization before incorporating it into their work.

Atwoli plans to utilize the phrase in various products, including a clothing line and sportswear items.

3: Pastor Susan Munene

Pastor Sue Munene, renowned for popularizing the humorous phrase ‘Twa! Twa!’ during a church service, took a step in March 2023 by applying to the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) to secure the trademark for the viral expression from 2019.

Speaking to the Daily Nation, the pastor explained that if granted copyright, she intends to use the term exclusively within her religious and educational activities.

She clarified that she harbors no plans to impede others from using the phrase, and she won’t seek royalties from those who choose to incorporate it.

“It is ownership, not for any other purpose. Not for business, not for anything. Do you see how people say they want to be paid? That is selfishness.”

4: KRG The Don

In 2022, Kenyan dancehall artist KRG the Don secured a trademark for the phrase ‘Mambo Imechemuka,’ which translates to ‘things are boiling.’

The validity of this trademark extends for ten years, contingent upon any opposition raised within 60 days from the publication date.

5: Stevo Simple Boy

In 2022, Stevo Simple Boy successfully obtained a trademark for his catchphrase “Freshi Barida.”

The widely recognized slogan gained prominence during an interview where Simple Boy discussed Kenya’s forthcoming general elections. Subsequently, it became the title of one of his songs.

Simple Boy’s management, Men in Business (MIB), officially declared that the rapper now possesses exclusive legal rights to the slogan, cautioning that any unauthorized commercial use of the catchphrase will result in legal consequences.

6: Moya David

Moya David, a prominent TikTok dancer with a substantial following in Kenya, disclosed that he took the step of patenting his dances.

This decision was prompted by the continual misuse and unauthorized replication of his dance moves, with some individuals unaware that he is the originator of those specific dance styles.

Expressing the importance of protecting his creativity, Moya emphasized that he often does not receive the recognition he rightfully deserves.

“Anyone attempting to mimic my style will face legal consequences. I have secured patents for all the dance styles I have created.”

Moya clarified that his intention is not to deter people from dancing but rather to assert his ownership rights over his creative contributions in the realm of dance.

7: Azziad Nasenya

In 2021, Azziad Nasenya, renowned TikTok sensation, radio presenter, and social media influencer, took the initiative to trademark her name and a corresponding logo featuring the initial letter of her first name.

This formal registration process was pursued through the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KiPi), a government parastatal overseeing Intellectual Property rights.

The trademark, covering her name and logo, holds validity for a decade, with the option for Azziad to seek renewal upon expiration.

She specified that the registered name and logo are designated for use in the realms of clothing, footwear, and headgear.

Why celebrities trademark their catchphrases outlines two key motivations behind the adoption of the trademarking strategy for catchphrases.

Primarily, celebrities pursue this approach with the belief that they can develop various avenues for monetizing the catchphrase.

This may involve the sale of merchandise such as T-shirts or other products, as well as the provision of services associated with the catchphrase.

The ultimate goal is to generate revenue through the utilization of the slogan.

Secondly, and perhaps of greater significance, celebrities opt for trademarking to safeguard their signature phrases from unauthorized commercialization by others.

Celebrities are wary of their catchphrases being exploited by opportunistic entities seeking to profit from someone else’s intellectual property.

Trademarking serves as a proactive measure to prevent unauthorized use and exploitation of their intellectual property before the catchphrase gains substantial recognition.