Oh the irony meter is just off the charts with this one.
JibJab media filed for a trademark registration for A-HOLE PATROL. Apparently JibJab uses the term to describe its “Online social club that screens jokes submitted by users to control offensive and inappropriate content.” From the JibJab website:
The A-Hole Patrol is JibJab’s volunteer community police force that is entrusted with helping keep the JibJab community safe from pornographers, hate mongers and extremists. The A-Hole Patrol (1) reviews new submissions to JibJab (2) investigates reports of abuse in the community and (3) re-reviews jokes that have been reported as offensive by JibJabbers. (source)
The examining attorney determined that A-HOLE is short for “asshole,” (rather than being its own word — which it is) and then rejected the trademark application as “immoral and scandalous.”
The examining attorney, relying upon several dictionary definitions and printouts of articles retrieved from the Internet, contends that because A-HOLE in applicant’s mark is a term for the word “asshole,” the mark is accordingly scandalous. Specifically, in support of her position, the examining attorney submitted the following definitions:
(1) asshole: Vulgar Slang.
1. The anus.
2. A thoroughly contemptible, detestable person.
3. The most miserable or undesirable place in a particular area.
1 usually vulgar: ANUS;
2a usually vulgar: a stupid, incompetent, or detestable person; b usually vulgar: the worst place — used in phrases like asshole of the world.
(3) asshole: Definition 1. (vulgar) the anus.
Definition 2. (slang) a contemptible or stupid person.
Definition 3. (slang) the worst part of a thing or place.
(4) asshole: Noun Vulgar 1. anus. 2. Slang. A. a stupid, mean or contemptible person. B. the worst part of a place or thing. Adjective 3. Slang. Stupid, mean, or contemptible.
Do you hear that sound? It is the IRONY ALARM going off its rocker! Because frankly, anyone who thinks that A-HOLE PATROL is too “immoral and scandalous” for the American public to handle is clearly a thoroughly contemptible and detestable person. And, the USPTO, for supporting such a victorian view of reality and such a dim view of the First Amendment is truly the most miserable part of a thing or place.
Under Section 2(a), to be considered “scandalous,” a mark must be “shocking to the sense of truth, decency or propriety; disgraceful; offensive; disreputable; … giving offense to the conscience or moral feelings; … [or] calling out for condemnation.” See In re Mavety Media Group Ltd., 33 F.3d 1367, 1371 (Fed. Cir. 1994). Whether a term is scandalous is determined from the standpoint of “not necessarily a majority, but a substantial composite of the general public, and in the context of contemporary attitudes.” Id.
I ask you, if you walked into your pastor and said “those ACLU people, they are just A-HOLES,” do you think even a Bible-belt pastor would blush? I think not. Nevertheless, the TTAB decided to side with the examiner.
Well, the contemptible and stupid win again. The morality police sided with the examiner and her supervisor — no doubt appointed by the same process that squeezed out Monica Goodling. We’re not even allowed to suggest or think “asshole” — of course, it is difficult to think of any other term when reading this opinion.
Once, after complaining bitterly about a colleague’s contemptible behavior, I said to a friend “You have to agree that he’s asshole.” He smiled and said “I would never say that about him. I’m a gay man. I like assholes.”