Monday, May 18, 2009
Certain things can be trademarked while other things cannot. Some of the “not” things are certain words or designs that are deemed to be immoral or scandalous under Section (2) of the Lanham Act. For example, remember when Damon Wayans tried to trademark “Nigga” for clothing? That got shut down by the examiner at the USPTO under Section (2).
In a recent 27-page decision, the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (“TTAB” or “Board”) refused registration of the mark PUSSY NATURAL ENERGY in connection with energy drinks on the basis of it being scandalous.
Applicant’s attorney of course argued the predictable, that the mark has multiple meanings (meow!), and that nothing in the packaging is inherently or even suggestive of a vulgar connotation. Nonetheless the Board still stated that “the continually evolving meaning of the term ‘pussy’ has come to mean something more, (sic) than merely a cat…[s]pecifically, the term ‘pussy’ refers to the female genitalia…” Further, the Board concluded that based on the evidence the “attention-grabbing meaning is the only reasonable meaning to conclude the relevant public would perceived in this context.” Dare we ask what flavor the drink was?
American Apparel has had its share of lawsuits. More recently with Woody Allen after American Apparel posted billboards of Allen without his permission. Now, American Apparel is on the offense against an opposing attorney in an employment litigation.
Keith Fink has a reputation as an aggressive employment attorney, typically suing celebrities and others in the entertainment industry. One of Fink’s notable cases is against blogger queen Perez Hilton over the PerezRevenge domain name trademark litigation. Fink represents a former employee of America Apparel that is suing the company’s CEO Dov Charney for sexual harassment.
As a preemptive attack, American Apparel has taken out several ads in UCLA’s Daily Bruin newspaper attacking Fink (who is a professor at UCLA) for his allege misconduct. UCLA however, stopped placing the ads, so America Apparel has moved on to the L.A. Business Journal. The May 11th issue of the paper has an America Apparel ad blasting Fink