If You See Something, Say Something ®

It’s a standard phrase used incessantly at train stations, airports, and other transit facilities. And often, it’s done illegally.

Following the 9/11 terrorism attacks, reminding travelers to be alert, aware of their surroundings, and reporting any suspicious behavior became a top priority for transit systems.

Needing a simple saying that encapsulated these values while simultaneously being memorable the, the MTA (State of New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority) worked with an advertising firm to develop the now ubiquitous term.

And boy did they protect it!

Having officially been registered as a trademarked term since 3/13/2007, the MTA is adamant that the term not be used without first obtaining a license.

How much do they charge for a license? For government agencies, public safety organizations, and similar groups: nothing.

However, in order to maintain control of the term they coined, trademark law requires them to be vigilant in protecting their intellectual property. This is why the MTA spends hours each day scouring for unlicensed uses of their IP, filing cease-and-desist letters, issuing licenses, and managing this entire process.