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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.

Filed Under: foia, redactions, t. markey, trademark, uspto


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2014 @ 1:43pm

    If I were the person behind this abomination, I’d want my name redacted, too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2014 @ 1:56pm

    Has that Holtzman Inkblot image been copyrighted¿ I'd like to use it. I needed a new wallpaper.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Namel3ss (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 2:20pm

    Taking Mickey Mouse bullshit to a whole new level.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2014 @ 2:42pm

    I can't stand Mickey Mouse, thank God he's morphing into the Invisible Mouse at last.

    That last image looks very 60s. Warhol meets black ink, ink wins.

    But srsly, perhaps the redacted content referenced Disney trademarks and they were frightened of Disney lawsuits - they probably employ more lawyers than the USPTO.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ambrellite (profile), 4 Dec 2014 @ 3:06pm

    Those aren't redactions--those are images of T. Markey's sidekick and stalwart protector "R. Edacto".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2014 @ 3:12pm

      Re:

      That's Red Acto to you.

      To me that last image quite clearly shows T. Marky tearing up some sort of a contract and throwing it in the air. Trademarks trump contracts and happiness?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2014 @ 3:30pm

    Is skateboarding something that kids still do?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2014 @ 12:00am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2014 @ 7:42am

    I want to use that last image as an album cover for a prog-rock act.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 5 Dec 2014 @ 9:13am

    Shouldn't it be TM instead of R?

    If his/ its name is "T. Markey", shouldn't his symbol be a "TM" instead an "R"? Or is he part of a superhero group called The Registrations?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 5 Dec 2014 @ 9:19am

      Re: Shouldn't it be TM instead of R?

      R works better than TM.

      TM means that it's an unregistered trademark. R means that it's federally registered.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 2014 @ 12:34pm

        Re: Re: Shouldn't it be TM instead of R?

        TM still might've been a better choice for T. Markey's transportation... 'cause to me, it looks like he's riding a Radio Shack skateboard, and that there is classic "brand confusion."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rain, Rain, 5 Dec 2014 @ 10:19am

    Just what I was looking for!

    This is perfect! I was just looking for an abstract illustration, free-to-use, and the USPTO provided it. Never again will I say the government doesn't do anything for me!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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