Oh, nurrr. Cardi B and her catchphrase “okurrr” may be inextricably linked in pop culture, but not closely enough for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The agency has denied the rapper’s application to trademark the alveolar trill.
As CNN reports, Cardi’s attorney filed trademark registration for the term in March with the intention of using the phrase on merchandise like posters, “paper products,” and apparel like shirts and underwear. The application included both the traditional “okurrr” spelling and the slightly less enthusiastic “okurr.” However, the USPTO rejected the application, arguing that the utterance is “commonplace term, message, or expression widely used by a variety of sources that merely conveys an ordinary, familiar, well-recognized concept or sentiment.”
The rejection also stated that the saying was “commonly used in the drag community and by celebrities as an alternate way of saying ‘OK’ or ‘something that is said to affirm when someone is being put in their place.'”
It’s true that the expression first gained steam thanks to cultural mainstays like RuPaul’s Drag Race and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but as W points out, it actually originated elsewhere. On his What’s the Tea podcast, RuPaul told Broadway actress Laura Bell Bundy (Elle Woods in Legally Blonde) that she was “the originator of okurrr.” According to the host, the first “okurrr” was rolled out in a 2010 comic short that saw Bundy playing a fictional Southern hairstylist named Shocantelle Brown. Bundy herself says the expression came from backstage antics during Legally Blonde.
You can’t really blame Cardi B for attempting to trademark okurrr; hell, Paris Hilton got “That’s hot” legally locked up. But despite how tied up with her public persona the phrase may be, the USPTO got this probably got this one right, as Cardi co-opted it more than created it. That’s probably okay with the rapper, as she’s getting plenty of “Press” elsewhere.
For a history lesson, watch Bundy’s “I Beweave Hair Salon commercial” short below.