The ultimately meaningless phrase “It’s on like Donkey Kong” has been subject to the attention of the US patent office as Nintendo attempts to trademark the phrase.
Donkey Kong, Nintendo’s angry barrel-hurling ape game, coined the phrase and is, according to Nintendo, “an old, popular Nintendo phrase that has a number of possible interpretations, depending on how it’s used.”
Nintendo’s main reason for filing the patent is its continued use in “popular music, television and film over the years”, which the company think points to Donkey Kong’s status as a cultural icon.
Notably, it has arisen in Scott Pilgrim Vs The World and some of rapper Ice-T’s song lyrics.
Broken down, the phrase apparently denotes that it is time to throw down or compete at a high level, insinuating that something or other is about to happen.
In 1984, MCA Universal famously sued Nintendo over copyright violations, claiming Donkey Kong was a copy of King Kong and its plot and characters, however, it was deemed that Universal did not own the rights to Kong, either, and the case failed.