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Friday, 14 May 2004


The Telegraph reports that priests at one of Japan's most famous temples have taken steps to block the sale of a sweet marketed as the "Snot from the nose of the Great Buddha". They have prevented the name being registered as a trade mark office, but have been unable to stop vendors selling the sweets to hordes of tourists who flock to see the giant Buddha in the ancient capital, Nara, in western Japan. Yamamoto Bussan, the company that launched the sweet three years ago, has said that in a recession a product name needs to make a strong impact. A spokesman said some employees had doubts about the name, so it was decided to attach the ultra-polite suffix sama to Buddha's name. But the sweet's packaging shows an irreverent picture of Buddha picking his nose.
Local media have suggested that the sweet is popular because the people of western Japan have an earthy sense of humour, which other Japanese often find coarse. Another famous Nara sweet is called "Deer Droppings". Most Japanese do not adhere strongly to any single set of religious beliefs, typically marrying in Christian services, holding Buddhist funerals and attending festivals at Shinto shrines. Buddhists objecting to the sweet on the grounds of profanity seem to be outnumbered by Japanese who are not put off by the thought of eating something named after snot.

The IPKat notes that national trade mark regimes can prevent the registration of unsavoury or offensive marks, but not their use. Recently his masters drafted an article (not yet published) on how to deal with “no-marks” (marks that, given their offensive nature, should be neither registered nor used). If you’d like to read the draft, click here.

Snot here, here, here, here and here
Deer droppings here, here and here

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