from the paging-the-redskins dept
We had just been talking about the awkward place the Washington Redskins most recent legal filing has left the government in, regarding the team's trademark. In that filing, the team pointed out the sheer hypocrisy of the government's stance that the term "Redskins" is too offensive to receive trademark registration status, yet the government has seen fit to award that status to all kinds of terms and phrases that are equally if not more offensive on any number of levels. But it isn't only for already-registered marks that the awkwardness exists. For new applications too, the courts now have to weigh whether offense applies to granting new trademarks. And, frankly, it's causing some in the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to employ some serious mental gymnastics when ruling.
The most recent example of this concerns a brewery out of Georgia named Left Nut Brewing Company. A recent ruling has allowed the brewery to trademark its name.
On November 16, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decided to allow a Georgia-based brewery to register their name as a trademark . Established about 30 years ago, “Left Nut Brewing Company” will finally be allowed to register after the reversal of an examiner’s decision that the brewery’s name was too vulgar for registration.To get the appeal board to allow this, the brewery pointed to langauge on its own website about how the name was derived. The site claims that its name is not of the vernacular one might initially think, but is instead a vernacular use with, according to the site, a different meaning.
Instead, it is “built on a vernacular which epitomizes the willingness to give up something of extreme value to do something or create something unique.” In allowing the name to become a trademark, Judge Shaw used such meaning for the phrase to defend his ruling saying that the figure of speech can mean a multitude of things and only one was arguably vulgar.Okay, let's not play around. The only meaning this refers to is indeed about a willingness to give up something of value: a man's left-leaning testicle. That's it. That's what left nut means. Now, I happen to love the brewery's name and think it should be adopted in every kind of industry, but the claims about the name having some other etherial meaning is laughable at best. But the judge's ruling claims to have bought the brewery's argument so as to grant it a trademark.
What's becoming clear is that even having to go through these mental gymnastics is dumb and nothing more than a waste of time. The easiest solution would be for the government to get out of the offense-measurement business entirely on trademark matters.