Paris Hilton became “famous for being famous,” especially after appearing on the hit reality show The Simple Life. Hilton may be caricatured as a pampered “dumb blonde,” but she has been smart enough to file a raft of trademarks that protect her name, image and famous phrases.
Paris Whitney Hilton is the great-granddaughter of legendary hotel entrepreneur Conrad Hilton. Hilton, who was raised in New York City, has been a celebrity from an early age. At 19, she signed with Trump Model Management. She walked at New York Fashion Week and was on the cover of Vogue.
Hilton frequently appeared at A-list parties and nightclubs with her sister Nicky. In 2001, she became a leading “It girl” and fashion icon.
Hilton was in several movies, including a cameo appearance in Zoolander with Ben Stiller and the slasher film House of Wax. She produced a record album that included the hit song “Stars Are Blind.” In 2004, she published the New York Times best-seller Confessions of a Socialite.
Her breakout success, however, came when she appeared with her friend and fellow socialite Nicole Richie on the reality show The Simple Life. While the show was billed as a showcase for both women, it was Hilton who captured the public’s imagination. Her memorable phrases, and bubbly personality endeared her to viewers and made her a household name.
One of those memorable phrases was the line, “That’s hot,” which Hilton applied to almost anything she liked. Another was the line, “Loves it.” After The Simple Life became a smash hit, the phrases were everywhere. When her manager Jason Moore suggested trademarking one of them, she agreed.
In an interview with CNN, Moore described staying up all night trying to choose between the two phrases. He knew they should only trademark one to have the most impact.
“‘That’s hot’ was the winner in my eyes,” he said. “The next day, I went to her with my crazy idea of trademarking it, and she was 100% open to it. She’s a very smart girl. She knew what I was trying to do, and I think it made her very happy to see that there was that much vision.”
Related: How to trademark a phrase
A Vision That Paid Off
The vision has certainly paid off in terms of money and cementing Hilton’s image as a trendsetter. All merchandise, clothing and gifts that contain the phrase must pay Hilton for the privilege. The trademark allows her to make licensing deals that bring in more money.
Hilton didn’t stop there, however. She has continued to create product lines and register trademarks for each one. She has over 20 registered trademarks for lines of clothing and other merchandise that carry her name.
- P by Paris Hilton: Eyelashes and other cosmetics.
- Paris Hilton stationery and craft supplies.
- Paris Hilton Passport: A fragrance line that recently released its 25th perfume.
- Heiress: A line of bath, body and facial products.
- Paris Hilton Pet: Leashes, bowls, pet sweaters and pet toys.
- Paris Hilton Sunglasses.
- Paris Hilton: A clothing line focusing on swimwear, accessories, casual clothing and resort wear.
- Just Me by Paris Hilton: A line of personal care products and fragrances.
- Just Me for Men by Paris Hilton: A line of personal care products for men.
Hilton has proven she’s a savvy businesswoman who knows how to market herself and make the most of her image. Her net worth is estimated at $300 million.
Like any trademark holder, Hilton has had to fight to keep her trademark safe. In 2007, Hilton sued the Hallmark Company for illegal use of her phrase and image.
It started when the famous card company issued a birthday card that depicted Paris Hilton’s first day as a server. The card included a punchline that played on the phrase, “That’s Hot.”
Hilton sued, saying the company had used her phrase without permission. Hallmark responded with an anti-SLAPP claim, saying the card was protected free speech.
A SLAPP is a “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” It refers to the use of expensive lawsuits to silence critics of public figures. Anti-SLAPP provisions are designed to protect journalists, creative people and others from the financial threat of a lawsuit designed to keep them from speaking freely.
Hallmark argued it had a free speech right to use the phrase and that a greeting card was a “transformative expression.” It said Hilton’s lawsuit was a SLAPP because Hilton was a celebrity.
Court of Appeals Ruling
In 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found for Hilton, saying, “She has at least some probability of prevailing on the merits before a trier of fact.”
The appeals court remanded the case back to a lower court. In 2010, however, both sides announced they had reached a settlement. The details are not public, but they clearly included pulling the offending card.
Hilton has not stopped building a personal and professional empire. In 2020, she filed an application to trademark the phrase, “Sliving.” According to Hilton, this is a state of being that combines “slaying” and “living your best life.” In other words, it means being glamorous, successful and self-empowered.
It began in 2019, when Hilton released an Instagram picture of herself with the hashtag “Sliving.” She later referred to her home as “Slivington Manor” in a press interview.
Building a Trademark Empire
Will “sliving” take off the way “That’s hot” did? It’s hard to say. One had a popular TV show behind it, and one will rely on social media, which is fickle. If the word does take off, however, Hilton is ready and waiting to make it part of her trademark empire.