Pop singer Taylor Swift's move to trademark common words like "swift" and "fearless" has many asking the question: how can someone trademark a single word?

Swift's recent trademark applications for 15 different terms and song lyrics are listed on the legal database website Justia. The trademark applications range from specific phrases like "Nice to see you. Where you been?" to individual words like "fearless." The filings aim to secure branding rights for a wide range of clothing, jewellery and performance services.

Entertainment lawyer Susan Abramovitch says it's not unusual for recording artists like Swift to lock up the branding rights to their lyrics as an alternative way to make money.

"I think she's a very savvy businesswoman," Abramovitch told CTV's Canada AM on Friday, explaining that, with the decline in music industry sales, artists like Swift are using their music to launch personal money-making empires.

"She knows she's a brand. She knows her lyrics are associated with her," Abramovitch said.

She added that anyone can apply to register a trademark on words or phrases. However, the trademarks won't last if the person does not use them.

Essentially, Swift must continue to put out products branded with the phrases she's registered, or she won't have control of them anymore.

"You have to use them and become associated with those goods and services in order to keep the protection," she said.

Swift's trademark filings ask for exclusive rights to put those words on keychains, lockets, running shoes, hoodies, sheet music and a variety of cosmetic products.