Trademark Examiner Not Swayed By Katy Perry's Attempt To Trademark The Left Shark

from the shake-it-off dept

We’ve written a few times about the so-called left shark, the internet meme that took off after one of singer Katy Perry’s backup dancers (in a shark costume, naturally) looked a little “off” during her Super Bowl performance earlier this year. The internet went crazy and created all sorts of memes around “left shark.” A guy named Fernando Sosa started selling 3d printed Left Shark figurines — and then Perry’s lawyers freaked out and basically claimed ownership to all things “left shark.”

Thankfully, the guy selling those 3D printed left sharks, Fernando Sosa, was able to retain lawyer Chris Sprigman, who pointed out that there is no copyright in costume design. Soon after that, we noted a bizarre twist on the story, in that Perry’s legal team made a quick effort to go and trademark left shark, while (amazingly) using one of Sosa’s photos of his own 3D printed models as the photo they submitted showing what they were trademarking.

Either way, Perry’s legal team has been working on a few different trademarks related to “left shark” but apparently trademark examiner David Collier has some concerns about Perry’s trademarking attempt:

David Collier, the trademark examiner, isn’t yet impressed by the attempt to register the design, which, he wrote, “identifies only a particular character; it does not function as a service mark to identify and distinguish applicant?s services from those of others and to indicate the source of applicant?s services.”

In other words, there’s not enough evidence submitted yet that consumers look at “Left Shark” and think of a Katy Perry music performance.

The examiner also noted the differences between a photograph of Perry dancing with “Left Shark” and the drawing of “Left Shark” submitted as the design.

“Specifically, the [photograph] displays the mark as a stylized depiction of a forward leaning shark in nearly a front profile with a portion of a dorsal fin, two pectoral fins and two legs and feet substituted for the caudal fin on the tail,” he wrote. “The shark has five gills, a full mouth with teeth and round eyes with eyelids; however, the drawing displays the mark as a stylized depiction of an upright shark in full front profile with no dorsal fin, two full pectoral fins and two legs and feet; the shark has three gills and the shark’s mouth appears without teeth; the shark also has oval eyes without eyelids.”

Of course, we feel obliged to go back to a point that Sprigman made early on in these discussions: while Perry may have had something to do with creating Left Shark, she had basically nothing to do with the reasons why Left Shark became “Left Shark” rather than “random dancing character in a big show that everyone forgets soon after.” As Sprigman noted:

No one knew that one of the sharks dancing next to Katy Perry during the Super Bowl halftime show was Left Shark until the Internet told us so. The Internet decided that Left Shark?s flubbed dance moves were hilarious. It gave Left Shark his name, and then it made him into a meme. Left Shark isn?t really about Katy Perry.

So if anyone deserves a trademark on it, it should be “the internet.” Or we can just make this simple and not trademark it at all.

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Comments on “Trademark Examiner Not Swayed By Katy Perry's Attempt To Trademark The Left Shark”

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25 Comments
tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 *duckducking "seseme street cleavage"*

Isn’t she also the one known for displaying an “unacceptable” amount of cleavage on Sesame St?

Holy cow, yes!

No kidding, which I consider rather perverse. What do those complainers think mammary glands are for, other than to produce baby food? Every mammal has nipples, including males. Every child watching Sesame St. is at most only months or a few years past being intimately familiar with their mother’s breasts. What more apropos audience is there than children?

You inadvertently bring up another point. Why don’t we cover cow’s udders if they’re so dangerous? Why aren’t male body builders forced to cover up? Some of them have bigger breasts than many women.

I’ll be very happy to see the end of this prudish nonsense.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Hot and Cold...

was re-edited to be “kid safe” still featuring Ms. Perry in a bridal gown (as per the original video).

Apparently, parents freaked out and phoned PBS so it never made it from Youtube to broadcast.

I’ll reserve judgement until I see it but given that as a kid I just didn’t notice cleavage (or naked breasts) as titillating until I hit puberty, this seems obviously about parents freaking out.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Katy Perry is losing a lot of points because of this.

OR maybe the lawyers are really representing someone who wants Katy Perry gone to the history books?

If I was her, I’d be hiring an investigative team to check who else her ‘lawyers’ are working for as they seem hellbent on deliberately destroying any reputation she’s built up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You may find her to be obnoxious, but I doubt it is because of this shark silliness alone. Why don’t you tell us how you really feel about it rather than hiding behind some media story.

She has too much money? Relative to what … other rich folk who do not appear on your TV set and do not want to get things they are not entitled to? Do you personally know any of these mythical creatures?

Who put you in charge of telling others what they would be best at doing for a living? What are you, some sort of commie bastard?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Missed opportunity

I’m sure that Perry’s lawyers disagree, but she has missed an enormous opportunity here. She could have ridden this Left Shark thing to its end and gained a huge amount of benefit from it through the association. Done right, she could have endeared herself (perhaps ironically, but still…) to an audience that currently sees her as a target of ridicule.

Instead, she decided to waste her time, money, and the attention Left Shark gets by putting it all into pointless court cases.

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