CALL US: 206.533.3854
CALL US  206.533.3854
Full color aeon logo
By David Lee from Redmond, WA, USA - Thunderpussy, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73482811

“Scandalous” Trademark Granted

“Thunderpussy” mark,
Once found to be scandalous,
Now approved for use

A Seattle-based all-woman hard-rock band has finally succeeded in obtaining a federal trademark it applied for in 2015.

As the Seattle Times reported, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected the application, contending that the proposed “Thunderpussy” mark violated the Lanham Act.

Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act prohibits the registration of trademarks that “[c]onsist[] of or comprise[] immoral[] or scandalous matter.”

15 U.S.C. § 1052(a) also prohibits the registration of a trademark if it may

disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute…

To determine whether a mark is immoral or scandalous, the USPTO will consider whether a substantial number of people would find the mark “shocking to the sense of truth, decency, or propriety” or “giving offense to the conscience or moral feelings.”

Several recent Federal Circuit and Supreme Court decisions have addressed challenges to the Lanham on First Amendment free speech grounds.

For example, as we discussed in this blog, after four years and two appeals to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), Simon Tam was awarded a trademark for The Slants, the name of his “Chinatown Dance Rock” band.

The Patent Office examiner found that the proposed mark was disparaging to people of Asian descent, even though Tam said he was trying to “reclaim” the term, to show pride in the members’ Asian heritage.

The Federal Circuit eventually held that “the disparagement provision of § 2(a) is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.”
Similarly, as we discussed in this blog, the US Supreme Court found that the Lanham Act’s ban on “immoral or scandalous” trademarks like “FUCT” was unconstitutional.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, Thunderpussy’s lawyer appealed the USPTO’s rejection of the mark and it was finally granted in early April.


Just like the haiku above, we like to keep our posts short and sweet. Hopefully, you found this bite-sized information helpful. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us here.

Related Articles

Federal Circuit Allows “Trump Too Small” Trademark

Federal Circuit:
First Amendment allows the
“Trump Too Small” trademark

Read More

When is trademark generic?

Generic trademarks:
Won’t be granted to start with,
And can be cancelled

Read More

AEON Law Founder Named Crypto “Trailblazer” by the National Law Journal

Adam Philipp, the founder of AEON Law, has been recognized among the leading practitioners of blockchain, cryptocurrency, and fintech law by the National Law Journal.

Read More

Stay Informed

Sign up to receive Patent Poetry—a monthly roundup of key IP issues in our signature haiku format. Four articles (only 68 syllables); zero hassle.

SERVICES

PROTECT

International IP Protection

DEAL

DEFEND

Opinions