USPTO Acts Like A Three-Letter Agency, Redacts A Bunch Of Stuff About Its Kid-Friendly 'T. Markey' Character

from the the-Mickey-Mouse-of-government-trademark-office-mascots dept

Before the 2009 National Trademark Expo, an event most of us have marked on our calendars EVERY YEAR, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) decided to design a kid-friendly trademark mascot to act as an ambassador to all the future Kleenex and Xerox designers nestled within America’s younger demographics.

What the office came up with was a Poochie for the IP wonk crowd (10 and under division). Here’s T. Markey doing something approaching rad in celebration of the 2012 National Trademark Expo. There’s also a QR code on the poster, which probably does whatever it is that QR codes do. Trendy as hell.


Parker Higgins — EFF member and IP wonk in his own right — FOIA’ed any documents related to the skateboarding, hang gliding, hot air ballooning mascot and received not only several pages of badly-scanned mockup art, but several pages of badly-scanned redactions [pdf link]. Because the USPTO is nothing if not extremely secretive about its… searches for existing design elements?


The USPTO drops the dreaded b(5) exemption all over its internal emails, withholding stuff seemingly just to be withholding stuff, which is what the b(5) exemption does best. Supposedly this exemption is limited to memos or letters that would not be available to anyone but a “party in litigation with the [responding] agency,” but in this case, seems to cover information otherwise in the public domain.

Here’s another redacted set of search results, covering variations like MARKY or MARKEY appearing on clothing. Hopefully, the two pages of black ink are covering up images rather than words. Otherwise, it would appear that the MARKY/MARKEY market is incredibly overcrowded.


Why the agency decided to black out these search results is a mystery, considering the USPTO’s site itself allows anyone to search for registered word and image marks. Maybe the USPTO just wanted to be like its big brothers (pun possibly intended), the FBI and the NSA, and just redact something, no matter how insignificant.

And then there’s this, in which bad scanning meets a third- or fourth-generation copy to create a murky, impressionistic nightmare in which Mickey Mouse is slowly consumed by a malevolent but iconic 70s-era smiley face that oozes all-encompassing blackness.


Possibly a metaphor for something, but more likely just another piece of roadkill at the intersection of Technology and Bureaucracy. You can never be too safe when releasing responsive documents, it would appear, even when your biggest secret is how examiners maintain straight faces when approving certain patent and trademark applications.

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Comments on “USPTO Acts Like A Three-Letter Agency, Redacts A Bunch Of Stuff About Its Kid-Friendly 'T. Markey' Character”

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17 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

This is fun.

…Mickey Mouse is slowly consumed by a malevolent but iconic 70s-era smiley face…

Beyond those two, the upper left quadrant also seems to contain Hem Dazon (Star Wars cantina patron) and a variant of Picasso’s Don Quixote scribble, both of which serve as the “profile” portions of a Rubin’s Vase figure-ground illusion (with the “vase” being a ballerina in 5th Position). The ballerina seems to be standing on a prone Mario (Luigi?), or perhaps Joseph Stalin… Or am I reading too much into this?

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