For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Thursday, 10 November 2005

WINE WHINE


CBS reports that CBS anchor Bruce Rheins and his wife, Dawn Westlake, have applied to the USPTO to register JESUS JUICE as a trade mark for wines. “Jesus Juice” is the term that the singer Michael Jackson was said to use for wine during the recent child molestation case against him and, indeed, the figurative element that accompanies the word element is a gentleman in a cruciform position wearing a loincloth, fedora, penny-loafers and a single rhinestone glove. The application has led to objections from Michael Jackson’s lawyers. Rheins and Westlake have countered that they never intended to sell wine under the mark. Instead, they applied for it for the purposes of distributing wine to their friends, and to stop others from obtaining the mark, leading to a situation where other peoples’ beverages could be mistaken for their own.

The IPKat reckons that, if the couple really only intended for the mark to be used on goods distributed to their friends, it would be unlikely that the mark would be registered or, if it was registered, stay on the register for long. The case is intriguing though. The IPKat is familiar with allegations that marks which appropriate the names of celebrities may be considered to be registered in bad faith or to be immoral. However, he’s not convinced that it’s desirable that celebrities should be able to control other elements which have become associated with them on these grounds, particularly where these elements have come to fame in insalubrious circumstances.

3 comments:

Filemot said...

For some of us this is a blasphemous image, but we are only playing into the journalist's hands by publicising it. There is no public interest story here unless we can persuade the US PTO that it could be rejected on immoral grounds (does the Lanham Act contain any?) or fraud on the patent office for an improper declaration.

Ilanah said...

I'm sorry if this causes offence, but I don't agree with you on the public interest ground. There is a point of public (or at least trade mark) interest in the concept of a famous person being able to/trying to be able to block the registration of a mark that doesn't refer to him by name, but instead by characteristics. To illustrate the way in which this reference to Michael Jackson was made, it was helpful to see how it was presented in the applied-for mark.

Guy said...

The story is not fully accurate. The USPTO records ahow Dawn Westlake alone applied to register the word mark Jesus Juice on 31st January 2004; the word "juice" has been disclaimed. She claims its first use in commerce on 29th September 2005. The USPTO records also show that many "Jesus" marks have been allowed. Over here we are stricter. The general view on Jesus as a trade mark is clearly explained by Geoffery Hobbs QC, as Appointed Person, in his decision of 18th January 2005 on Madrid applications M689374 & M776058. It makes fascinating reading. (I sent a copy to my local vicar who appreciated it.)

re

Subscribe to the IPKat's posts by email here

Just pop your email address into the box and click 'Subscribe':