No separation of church and state at the USPTO

An enterprising individual attempted to secure trademark registration for the term BONG HITS 4 JESUS. Naturally, the USPTO rejected the application on a few grounds. The first was that the term is “merely ornamental” — a position that I agree with.

Here is where the USPTO gets really creepy – again!

In the Morse case, the Supreme Court also said the phrase BONG HITS 4 JESUS has a “paucity of alternative meanings,” and said that the message was “no doubt offensive to some.” Morse v. Frederick 127 S. Ct. at 2624. While there is no prohibition against offensive trademarks, there is no constitutional right to obtain a trademark registration. It is the nature of the potential offensiveness of the phrase BONG HITS 4 JESUS that make it scandalous and therefore not eligible for registration.

According to the attached evidence, discussed above, the proposed mark BONG HITS 4 JESUS promotes the use of illegal drugs by attributing its use to a religious figure. This is scandalous because Christians would be morally outraged by a statement that connects Jesus Christ with illegal drug use. Accordingly, the mark BONG HITS 4 JESUS is scandalous and cannot register based on the current record.

A mark that is deemed scandalous under Section 2(a) is not eligible for registration on either the Principal or Supplemental Register. TMEP §1203.01.

See US Serial No: 77305946

While the final paragraph in this is correct, the rest of it is just crap. First of all, who says that Jesus *didn’t* smoke dope? Personally, I bet he did. Second, does the USPTO think that marijuana was illegal in Judea in 20 A.D.?

I really hope that the next administration puts an end to the hiring spree of Regent University graduates in positions of authority.

12 Responses to No separation of church and state at the USPTO

  1. Curious Texan says:

    I really hope that the next administration puts an end to the hiring spree of Regent University graduates in positions of authority.

    Unlike Jesus’ use of illicit drugs, which can neither be confirmed nor denied, the examining attorney for BONG HITS 4 JESUS (Fred Carl III) is definitely NOT one of the 150 graduates of Pat Robertson’s law school hired by the Bush Administration. According to his biography from Cantor Colburn, LLP, Mr. Carl is a graduate of the DePaul University Law School:

    (As best I can piece together, Mr. Carl returned to the PTO in late-2005/early 2006.)

    It should be noted that DePaul University is the largest Catholic university in the United States. So next time, do your homework and put the blame where it belongs – not on the Evangelicals, but rather on the Catholics.

  2. I guess that I didn’t necessarily blame Mr. Carl for this idiotic decision. I looked at the file and it said that the supervisor had been consulted.

  3. Learned Hand says:

    @Curious Texan – You bring up a very good point, namely, one cannot definitively prove Jesus’ use or non-use of marijuana. I for one would hope that JC hit the pipe a time or two.

    However, another thing that one cannot prove without personal knowledge of Mr. Karl’s religious leanings is whether or not he is Catholic. Plenty of Evangelicals seeking a law degree choose highly ranked Catholic law schools (Georgetown ring a bell?) over the lower ranked and less prestigious, Bible-based, ideologically warped schools like Regents or Liberty. So don’t lay the blame for this at the feet of Catholics. If you’ve ever scene the documentary “Jesus Camp” you’d know that this sounds like the work of some demented evangelical.

  4. I didn’t know many evangelicals at Georgetown, although I am sure there were a few. When I was there, it was prior to the evangelical coup of 2000. Back then “christian” and even “born again christian” were not necessarily dirty words.

    But, I agree… it is most likely that a completely demented evangelical ordered this decision.

  5. Curious Texan says:

    Learned Hand,

    Your point is well taken. My nephew graduated from Catholic University law school, and as far as I know, he’s agnostic, having attended Methodist and Unitarian services at time or two growing up (I haven’t seen him in more than 10 years, so I don’t really know what he believes).

    That being said, I still find it of interest that the examining attorney isn’t a Regent University graduate, as Mr. Randazza seems to imply. I have neither the time, energy nor resources to determine whether the Law Office 108 supervisor is, much less his religious persuasion in general. Does anyone happen to know if any of the 150 Regent University graduates in the Bush Administration are employed at the PTO?

    Some people are inclined to blame everything on George W. Bush and/or evangelicals – from AIDS to the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby. It appears that Mr. Randazza is so inclined; if you are too, then this whole discussion is pointless.

  6. Ron Phillips says:

    Holy crap! This is Riverbank Canning all over again! Whether you like GWB or not, this is bullshit.

  7. Curious Texan says:

    My point exactly. Riverbank Canning was decided in 1938. Does that mean that FDR was somehow responsible for that decision?

  8. I do not know if, in fact, the supervisor went to Regent, Liberty, Ave Maria, or Yale. You, like most uneducated morons, are attempting to focus on the details, and not the issue.

    “Regent” is a metaphor for evangelicals and social conservatives who have infected every corner of government, you dipshit.

  9. Curious Texan says:

    Mr. Randazza,

    I’ll match my education to yours any day. I have a Master’s degree in international relations from the University of Southern California and another Master’s in teaching foreign language from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

    Ironically, I actually agree with you that the decision on BONG HITS 4 JESUS is ill-advised. The problem I see with 2(a) in general is that it’s governed by the culture of the moment, whereas registrations can go on forever, so long as the registrant timely files Section 8 and 9 affidavits.

    Let me give you a somewhat absurd hypothetical to make my point. Suppose, in the era before it was politically incorrect to disparage gays and African-Americans, registration issued for the marks QUEERS FOR CHRIST or NIGGERS FOR THE NAZARENE. If these marks were later deemed immoral or scandalous (which I certainly believe they are), what recourse would there be? Would GLAAD or the NAACP have standing in a cancellation action, i.e. a “reasonable basis for its belief in damage” (TBMP §303.03)? If so, would the same apply for Christian organizations?

    As far as your gratuitous comment at the end of an otherwise interesting post, you, like most arrogant liberals, cannot discuss even the most apolitical of topics without revealing your Bush Derangement Syndrome and christophobia. Your need to resort to name calling also reflects your intolerance of opposing points of view.

  10. Investigative Student says:

    I agree that this was not correctly decided. I’ve been researching for my essay on separation on church and state and this is a really good point. I would like to know if i could use it as a point and some of your quotes in my essay?

  11. Of course you may use any materials from my blog that you like!

    All I ask is that you properly attribute and cite.

  12. Curious Texan,

    Nice to see that on your fourth comment, you’ve finally focused on the actual issue.

    To answer your question, yes, the GLAAD or NAACP would have standing in a cancellation action. The TTAB is rather liberal in its view of who has standing in a cancellation proceeding. And yes, the same would apply for Christian organizations. I don’t particularly mind if a private organization wants to challenge an application on 2(a) grounds.

    I am troubled when people with zero mental or educational qualifications are hired simply due to their religious or political (or both) affiliation, and then they try to impose their own personal morality on everyone else — with the government backing them.

    Bush Derangement Syndrome is another word for “Patriotism.” If someone drives my car and hands it back half destroyed, then I have a right to be angry at them. I also have a right to be mad at whoever gave him the keys. Hence my belief that anyone who still has a “W” sticker on their car should be sterilized.

    I win on the education “whose chram is bigger” contest too, so here, kiss my Sicilian ass! :)

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