Nintendo Wants to Trademark 'It's On Like Donkey Kong'

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

Nintendo is trying to trademark the pop-culture phrase, "It's on like Donkey Kong," but does the does the phrase really belong to the company?

According to a Nintendo press release, the Japanese video game maker has filed a request with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to make the phrase -- first popularized, as far as I'm aware, by rapper Ice Cube in his 1992 song "Now I Gotta Wet'cha" -- its property.

Nintendo claims that "It's on like Donkey Kong" is "an old, popular Nintendo phrase that has a number of possible interpretations depending on how it's used." Nintendo does acknowledge that the phrase has been used in "popular music, television and film over the years," which Nintendo believes indicates "Donkey Kong's status as an enduring pop-culture icon and video game superstar."

Well, OK then. I'm not going to deny that Donkey Kong is one of Nintendo's most iconic video game characters -- right up there next to Mario and Princess Peach. But is the phrase "It's on like Donkey Kong" really Nintendo's?

The phrase is generally used to mean "it's on" (I know that was hard to figure out, considering the first two words in the actual phrase), or "it's going down," or something along those lines. Urban Dictionary, which credits the popularization of the phrase with Ice Cube -- not Nintendo -- says it is:

"A phrase to denote that it's time to throw down or compete at a high level; something is about to go down. The use of the comical video game character Donkey Kong provides comic relief but the phrase itself has greater or more significance than simply 'it's on.'"

Donkey Kong, a large ape character, first graced arcade screens in 1981. The character has since been the star of many sequels, including Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Land, and Donkey Kong 64, across all of Nintendo's console platforms -- from the Super NES to the Nintendo Game Boy to most recent Nintendo Wii.

Nintendo freely admits that its patent request was filed "in honor" of the upcoming November 21 launch of the Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii.

"On Nov. 21, It's on like Donkey KongTM!" The Nintendo press release reads.

Follow Sarah on Twitter (@geeklil) or at

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon