Nintendo doesn’t want you to say ‘It’s on like Donkey Kong’ anymore

Donkey Kong Country Returns for Wii

Donkey Kong Country Returns hits Nintendo Wii on November 21st

Donkey Kong is, indubitably, a pop culture icon and has been a recognizable character since he first appeared in 1981, throwing barrels at a simple plumber named Mario.

You’ve also surely heard (or even said) the phrase “it’s on like Donkey Kong” at some point in your life.  The phrase might have first come from a 1992 song by Ice Cube called “Now I Gotta Wet’cha” but has now become a staple of modern expression for when it’s time to throw down something fierce, appearing in movies such as American Wedding and even songs like Trace Adkins’ “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.”

No more monkey business, though.

Now Nintendo has filed to trademark the phrase, meaning you won’t be able to say it without their permission anymore. (You could likely get away with saying it in conversation, but some trademarks become an issue if you publish it even in something as simple as a tweet or utter it in a YouTube video.)

Not coincidentally, Nintendo has their latest Donkey Kong game coming out this month – Donkey Kong Country Returns hits the Wii on November 21.  A press release even said “it’s on like Donkey Kong.”  Of course the game’s updated for the Wii system, but the most fun improvement is that you can now play it as two-player, side-by-side – you can be Donkey Kong, and your friend can be Diddy Kong as you fight evil Tikis and go banana huntin’ on Donkey Kong Island. [Read the review at]

According to Wikipedia, the Donkey Kong character has appeared in countless video games and sold more than 49 million copies.  Nintendo Power ranked him the 8th most beloved arcade hero of all time.

The game looks like fun, and the phrase is certainly fun to say, but is this just a stunt to bring some attention to the new game? Or does Nintendo have a case?  Apple managed to trademark “there’s an app for that,” so stranger claims have certainly succeeded with the U.S. Patent & Copyright Office.