Feeds

Profane trademark rejected

Except for sex shop use

Security for virtualized datacentres

A businessman has failed to win the right to register the term "screw you" as a wide-ranging European trademark because it is offensive. It can be used, but only for goods sold in sex shops, the European trademark authority has ruled.

Jeberaj Kenneth, trading as Screw You, applied to register "screw you" as a trademark in Europe for a wide variety of goods and was denied by the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), the body which is responsible for European community trademarks.

Kenneth appealed to OHIM's ultimate authority, the Grand Board of Appeal, arguing that the initial decision had painted the phrase as being more offensive than it actually was.

Kenneth sought to protect the phrase as it applied to products as diverse as sunglasses and sex toys, spectacle cases and breast pumps as well as alcoholic beverages, condoms and sports equipment.

The original application had been turned down on the basis that the phrase did not comply with an article of the Community Trade Mark Regulation which bans marks which are contrary to "accepted principles of morality". The examiner in question equated the word "screw" to the word "fuck" and said the term was insulting.

In his appeal, Kenneth argued that the two words were not equally offensive, and that the phrase "screw you" was in common, acceptable use in English, as demonstrated by its use in Eastenders and The Simpsons.

The board accepted that the two terms were not equally offensive, and that public swearing was more acceptable now than it had been 30 years ago, but that the liberties extended to artistic expression were not necessarily to be extended to commercial expression. The phrase "screw you", the board concluded, was definitely a profanity.

The board ruled, however, that there were some contexts in which the profanity would not present a problem. The trademark would be permitted in relation to the goods proposed by Kenneth that would be sold in sex shops, such as sex toys, artificial breasts and breast pumps.

The board also said the trademark could provide protection for condoms even outside of sex shops, since any purchaser would be unlikely to be offended by the term. The board rejected protection in relation to alcoholic beverages, which had been previously granted in the UK.

See: The decision (11 page/150KB PDF)

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.