Florida restaurant: We own trademark to ‘Yolo,’ not Drake

Naples fans of the rapper Drake no doubt are familiar with his 2011 hit song “The Motto.” It’s the track in which he popularized the term YOLO, an acronym for “You only live once.”

Recently, Drake has made some assertions that he has trademarked “YOLO,” but the facts might soon have him singing a different tune.

YOLO isn’t actually a new term. Pop culture buffs have tracked its first appearance to a use by a contestant on a 2004 episode of a reality TV show. In 2006, the band The Strokes released a single called “You Only Live Once,” which they referred to as “YOLO” for short. And in 2008, a restaurant called YOLO opened right here in Florida, in Fort Lauderdale.

The restaurant has actually trademarked the term YOLO. What’s interesting is that Rick Ross, the producer of “The Motto,” used to be a regular customer, according to YOLO’s proprietor. That makes the owner of YOLO wonder if Ross was “inspired” by the restaurant’s name to create “The Motto.”

Now, the clarity of this situation is not at all helped by how loosely people use the term “trademarked.” You can acquire trademark thought use, but it’s far wiser to shore up your rights to the trademark by registering your mark with the appropriate office at the state level, federal level, or both.

We haven’t checked as to whom, if anyone, has formally applied for trademark privileges for the term YOLO. Nor have we conducted any kind of deep investigation into the history of its use. Even so, it seems to us that Drake might be being a bit presumptuous if he is asserting complete and total ownership over the term.

Source: The Broward-Palm Beach New Times, “Rapper Drake Thinks He Owns the Term YOLO – But Did He and Rick Ross Crib the Phrase from the Fort Lauderdale Restaurant?” Sara Ventiera, Jan. 3, 2013