USPTO Confirms It Has No Sense Of Humor And A Very Limited Grasp On Today's Slang Lexicon

from the trademarkus-interruptus dept

In this case, applicant seeks registration of NO FUCKS GIVEN for hats, headbands, hooded sweatshirts, pants, shirts, and wraps.
Trademark application denied. So sayeth the US Patent and Trademark Office, citing -- among other things -- a handful of real dictionaries, along with the more useful "Urban Dictionary."


Certainly, a case could be made that the word "fuck" has crossed the threshold of making the fairer sex faint whenever it's uttered or whatever the standard is that turns sharper swear words into just another "damn."

That the USPTO would quote the Urban Dictionary is a small sign that it's broadening its horizons. This is cited somewhat in the registrant's defense, since the UD defines "fucks" as "the standard unit of measurement used to describe the amount an individual cares about something."

But that's the end of the good news for Michael Suo, the man who would be the king of given fucks (clothing items only). And that's the end of the USPTO's brief flirtation with comprehending common slang terms.

From that point on, it's real dictionaries all the way down, leading the USPTO to this inevitable conclusion.
Registration is refused because the applied-for standard character mark, NO FUCKS GIVEN consists of or includes immoral or scandalous matter.
The USPTO notes that the public might be fine with everyone swearing like proverbial sailors, but it won't be a part of this downfall of society, thank you very much.
The fact that profane words may be uttered more freely in contemporary American society than in the past does not render such words any less profane. In re Tinseltown, Inc., 212 USPQ 863, 866 (TTAB 1981) (holding the mark BULLSHIT scandalous for handbags and other personal accessories); see In re Michalko, 110 USPQ2d 1949, 1953 (TTAB 2014) (holding the mark ASSHOLE REPELLENT scandalous for a spray can gag gift).
From that point, it's simply a matter of using a single definition for the word "fuck" pulled from real dictionaries and applying it horribly to the phrase in question. The end result is something akin to a person swearing in something other than their native tongue -- i.e., badly and far too literally.

The attached evidence from Merriam-Webster and Cambridge Dictionaries Online, and others, shows the term, FUCK(S) which is obscene means to engage in coitus with. Therefore, the word FUCK(S) is scandalous because it conveys the commercial connotation of “no coitus given”.
Yeah, but no. And the USPTO probably knows this, since it also cited Know Your Meme.


At no point could this picture of an unhappy owl being sprayed with water be reasonably interpreted as stating:


If Suo indeed has any fucks left to give, he's welcome to appeal the USPTO's decision. But if it's not ready to greenlight BULLSHIT, 1-800-JACK-OFF or ASSHOLE REPELLENT, chances are its fucks will remain in steady supply for the time being. That being said, Suo's lack of registered trademark won't prevent him from selling foul-mouthed headgear, etc., but it won't prevent anyone else from doing so either. And considering the phrase has pretty much pushed "I don't care" into the realm of obsolete vernacular, it's probably a good thing no one's being granted exclusive use. But hat's off to Suo for trying, even if they're of the more boring variety that lack a running total of fucks remaining to give. (h/t Metafilter)


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  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 15 Sep 2015 @ 10:49am

    Ummm

    I think the application should have been turned down, but not for the reason they gave - it's a common phrase and one person should not be allowed to lock up a common phrase! We have enough of that kind of shit already. What's next? Allowing someone to trademark the word "Always"? Madness, I tell you!

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

  • identicon
    DCL, 15 Sep 2015 @ 10:52am

    Reference guilde

    They should have used this fabulous film to understand the situation:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rX7-R54-Q8

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:45am

      Re: Reference guilde

      And for the two people living in a cave who haven't seen this scene (yes, the rest of you know what it's going to be), here is the quintessential application of the principles put forth in DCL's linked film:

      https://youtu.be/1lElf7D-An8

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:03am

    Tim, you were just trying to increase your "naughty words" ranking on here, weren't you? Haven't we got almost half a year left before the next stack ranking comes out?

    I agree with JoeCool -- I'd go further to say that the PTO gave no fucks about this application, which is why they didn't bother to give a more in-depth reason -- just enough to say er, no, we don't allow stuff like this, and yes -- we get what you were trying to do.

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

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:03am

    He should re-apply, with one teeny, tiny change: NO FUX GIVEN.

    Guaranteed approval right there.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:03am

    Anything childish and tears at people, you're for. Anything that actually protects or builds civilization, you're against.

    You are the barbarians inside the gates, the orc hordes, the muggles, the zombies.

    Rampant vulgarity just simply cannot be good. I don't object to the words, kids, know MORE of them, historical and furrin, than you do! -- But sheerly as practical matter, if loses its shock value, what next?

    Tell you what, if you don't think it's harmful to some degree, just use variants of "FUCK" frequently to your mother and all other women, especially in the work place. Dare you.


    By the way, once I've gotten a comment in, you might think that have an "okayed" cookie? Wrong! It's always poisoned after a few minutes, have to get new ID and toss cookies.

    Mild-mannered dissent is yet words that Techdirt can't bear...

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

    • identicon
      Just Another Anonymous Troll, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:10am

      Re: Anything childish and tears at people, you're for. Anything that actually protects or builds civilization, you're against.

      "You are the barbarians inside the gates, the orc hordes, the muggles, the zombies."
      Said the guy who exists solely to throw shit.
      Enjoy your well-deserved poisoned cookie, barbarian.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:23am

      Re: Anything childish and tears at people, you're for. Anything that actually protects or builds civilization, you're against.

      What you're say is, 'you are hacking this site.' What would your overlords think of that? Or is it okay for you guys to be the hackers, but not for others?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:31am

      Re: Anything childish and tears at people, you're for. Anything that actually protects or builds civilization, you're against.

      It's really sad to see an old miserable fuck yelling at the goddamn kids everyday to get off his lawn.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:49am

      Re: Anything childish and tears at people, you're for. Anything that actually protects or builds civilization, you're against.

      Every day, the same tired excrement. Honestly, go coitus yourself, you gastrointestinal tract terminating sphincter.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 12:53pm

      Re: Anything childish and tears at people, you're for. Anything that actually protects or builds civilization, you're against.

      Well, your attitude makes me want to toss cookies, so we're even.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 6:01pm

      Re:

      It's funny that you think of yourself as someone who protects or builds civilization.

      And by funny, I mean pathetic.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:11am

    pro·fane
    prəˈfān/Submit
    adjective
    1.
    relating or devoted to that which is not sacred or biblical; secular rather than religious.
    "a talk that tackled topics both sacred and profane"
    synonyms: secular, lay, nonreligious, temporal; formallaic
    "subjects both sacred and profane"
    2.
    (of a person or their behavior) not respectful of orthodox religious practice; irreverent.
    "desecration of the temple by profane adolescents"
    synonyms: irreverent, irreligious, ungodly, godless, unbelieving, impious, disrespectful, sacrilegious
    "a profane man"
    verb
    1.
    treat (something sacred) with irreverence or disrespect.

    Care to explore separation of Church and State? Are they arguing that language is sacred?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Hero, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:13am

    Look at the bright side

    There goes a lot of trademark litigation for a common phrase out the window, to which this site tends to give many fucks.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:19am

    I would have to agree that it should have been declined because it is a common phrase. the vulgarity of it is a personal decision that can be argued fairly arbitrarily. but trademarking common phrases should be a straight forward decline. Things like "you wanna get out of here" or "run for your life" are other examples of common phrases that should never be ownable.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:21am

    Monopolies over common phrases

    Trademark application for "No Fucks Given" denied? Good!!! The asshole trying to trademark the phrase did nothing to justify a monopoly over its use in a commercial context. He took a phrase someone else conceived and tried to claim an exclusive right to profit from it.

    To hell with that guy. He can make money without the monopoly.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Crowad, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:40am

    Hats off to him for trying to trademark something that's already part of the vernacular? Seems a hypocritical stance for this site.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 11:52am

    Right for the wrong reasons

    When our corporate overlords are done locking up the english language under their monopoly rights, this decision and others like it means we'll at least still have profanity.

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

  • identicon
    Thrudd, 15 Sep 2015 @ 12:16pm

    profanity

    You should ask their opinion on the language used by Shakespeare.
    He tended to spice up his works with the profanity of the day.
    Codswadel and Bollucs or however it is supposed to be spelled.

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

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 15 Sep 2015 @ 1:21pm

    Offensive?

    I can not say that I find the use of such terminology offensive. But when it, and its ilk, is used as verb, noun, adverb, adjective, punctuation, and every other role of words in the language, I do find it rather boring.

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

  • icon
    amoshias (profile), 15 Sep 2015 @ 1:48pm

    I find this site so weird sometimes.

    I don't get this site sometimes. Are you trying to tell me that when this applicant tries to sue someone for trying to sell panties with "NO FUCKS GIVEN" there wouldn't be an EQUALLY OUTRAGED article up here blasting the fact that the trademark had been granted?

    Of course you would. This application is utterly ridiculous. It's a common phrase, containing material that - whether this rule makes sense or not - is smack dab in the center of a rule that disallows the word "fuck" in trademark applications.

    Your argument that - somehow - the context renders the word "fuck" not obscene here is ridiculous on its face. It's the transgressive nature of USING the word fuck in this context that gives the phrase "I don't give a fuck" its linguistic power. Does it sound really, REALLY silly for a patent examiner to have to explain that using the word 'coitus'? Yes, absolutely. (Anything that uses the word coitus sounds ridiculous.) But that doesn't magically grant your argument validity.

    Maybe the PTO should let the word fuck into trademarks. I don't know, frankly, and I don't care. But that's the rule right now, this application clearly falls within the ambit of the rule, and letting your hatred of the PTO overwhelm your common sense doesn't help anyone. Techdirt is better than this.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 4:32pm

      Re: I find this site so weird sometimes.

      "but it won't prevent anyone else from doing so either. And considering the phrase has pretty much pushed "I don't care" into the realm of obsolete vernacular, it's probably a good thing no one's being granted exclusive use."

      It's okay to like a decision but hate the reasons for it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 7:53pm

      Re: I find this site so weird sometimes.

      The only reason TD exists is because of the entirely fucked up, distorted, perverted, incoherent concept of "intellectual property", including copyrights, patents, trademarks, and the laughable "publicity rights", that allow people to think that the most absurd concepts that humanity has ever imagined are somehow justifiable. Commenting on insanity is bound to come across as slightly disjointed.

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

  • identicon
    The, 15 Sep 2015 @ 1:49pm

    Am I the only one who finds the owl picture funnier with the 'alternate' reading?

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

  • identicon
    Digitari, 15 Sep 2015 @ 2:52pm

    Moral panics

    How funny, did you know that the sheath of a sword in ancient Rome was called a "vagina" and, used as slang referred to a females body part yes the Vagina. so lets all have a moral panic about slang words because in 2000 years, no one will give a fuck...............

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

  • identicon
    Zonker, 15 Sep 2015 @ 3:05pm

    I don't see how this is any different than denying trademark protection for the Washington Redskins. Nobody is denying them the use of the word/phrase, the USPTO simply won't grant any exclusive rights on those words to the applicant on the grounds of those terms being potentially "offensive" to some people.

    But then again, I don't really give a fuck.

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

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 15 Sep 2015 @ 3:35pm

    So I gather then that that owl up the top is married as well....

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

  • icon
    BentFranklin (profile), 15 Sep 2015 @ 7:52pm

    I don't think we can applaud USPTO for denying the Washington football team's trademark and then decry this action.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 9:42am

      Re:

      Techdirt has applauded USPTO for denying the Redskins trademark, even tho it doesn't like how they have tried, tried again by trying to trademark things like "Redskin Potatoes". And rightful so. While the USPTO isn't exactly setting these companies on fire, it doesn't really seem to fit within trademark propose of protecting consumers from companies misusing the names of others, to push them into not saying un-nice things.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Sep 2015 @ 9:43am

      Re:

      Techdirt has NOT applauded USPTO for denying the Redskins trademark, even tho it doesn't like how they have tried, tried again by trying to trademark things like "Redskin Potatoes". And rightful so. While the USPTO isn't exactly setting these companies on fire, it doesn't really seem to fit within trademark propose of protecting consumers from companies misusing the names of others, to push them into not saying un-nice things.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Sep 2015 @ 8:54pm

    to the applicunt that wants to tie up a common phrase with trademark , proof that you were the first person to coin that phrase is mandatory.

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

  • identicon
    Love to give a fuck, 16 Sep 2015 @ 10:49am

    Once senility sets in

    Doesn't 'one rat's ass' = 'one fuck'?

    Or is it 'a good goshdarn'? I can't remember.

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


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