Not in front of the children!

The IPKat's old friend and highly respected trade mark attorney Sally Cooper is highly indignant with regard to current UK-IPO trade mark registration practice. She writes:

"Can I add my voice to the growing (sound)wave of those beginning to wonder whether all is well at UK-IPO? Both Application M973025 for ASSHOLE for services in Class 38 and Application 2490640 for QRGASM (read that carefully) for goods in Classes 9, 16, 18, 25 and 26 were published in Journal 6757 on 17 October 2008. In my role as a good citizen, I wrote (separate) letters of observations to the Trade Marks Registry mentioning public policy/accepted principles of morality. Both letters were acknowledged by the Registry, which advised that my own letters had added nothing not already known to the Registry on examination/decision to allow applications to proceed to publication.

I cannot provide this correspondence because, being angry, I shredded all of same (though presumably it will have found its way to the Registry's own (unshredded) files). I'm still angry".

Class 38? That's telecommunications, says the IPKat. Not a problem with descriptive marks there unless you've got real problems with your service provider.

Right: currently licensed to the UK-IPO, on whose home page they lurk, are the Wallace and Gromit images in danger of tarnishment through association with applications for trade mark registration?

Merpel adds, in the light of the Grand Board of Appeal ruling, in Case R 0495/2005 G Application of Kenneth (t/a Screw You) [2007] ETMR 7, it's difficult to say that there's such a thing as a sign that's inherently offensive and contrary to good morality right across the Nice Classification: while A*****E will be regarded by most consumers as extremely unpleasant for most classes of goods and services, it's possible to think of relevant consumers of specific goods and services who might find the concept a turn-on. Neither the IPKat nor Merpel are exactly in favour of Q****M as a trade mark either -- the only thing that can be said about it is that, if it should ever come before an OHIM Board of Appeal in a Community trade mark opposition, they can almost visualise the paragraph of the decision which, in dealing with aural similarity, explains how this word would be pronounced.
Not in front of the children! Not in front of the children! Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, November 27, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. We should remember that IPRs are the right to prevent somebody from using the registered rights. There is no authorisation attached to the registration. Many believe this, however. There may be many reasons, completely independent from the registered right, that a given IPR cannot be used in practice. Among them are prior rights but certainly also society's morality rights. The most exquisite poisons and handguns are patented.

    It is typical that nobody feels like commenting on this issue - except me, but I'm just an old f...

  2. There's a difference between that which is vulgar (registrable) and that which is "seriously troubling" (unregistrable) - to pinch a phrase used by the APs.

    The UK-IPO isn't endorsing these words, but merely reflecting the level that this Ross/Brand society has reached.

  3. I received a similar letter to that sent to Sally Cooper when I filed observations on "Brewers Droop" for beer. My observations even include a quote from Macbeth.

  4. Surely the biggest obstacle to registration of ASSHOLE for services in class 38 is that it is descriptive of a significant number of the service providers?


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