Unintended Uses, another Sex Toy Trademark Case

June 13, 2007

Who knew that the British were so innovative. A few weeks ago, we had the iGasm story where annsummers.com, an online sex shop in the UK was selling a vibrating iPod attachment. Apple’s Imperial trademark lawyers were not amused.

Now, Love Honey, another crafty UK manufacturer of sexual accoutrements has developed a vibrator attachment for an Oral B electric toothbrush. The current ad is here, but the much more interesting story is here.

I don’t know much about UK trademark law, but this suggests that there is a strong distinction between UK trademark fair use and our version.

Kink.com Appeals USPTO Refusal to Register “Immoral and Scandalous” Trademarks

June 8, 2007

Orlando Weekly published an article chronicling Kink.com‘s attempts to secure registration of several of its trademarks, such as fuckingmachines and whippedass.

Trademark registration is a standard practice for any business that wants to protect its interests. However, Kink.com and others who have attempted register trademarks that contain a “dirty word” have been told by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) that “Registration is refused because the proposed mark consists of or comprises immoral or scandalous matter.”

Kink.com is appealing the board’s rejections, claiming that they are unconstitutional and unsupported by the evidence provided by the government. Kink is determined to prove to the Courts and Trademark Office that while “fuck” might raise an eyebrow in polite conversation, in modern times, “fuck” does not rise to the level of “scandalousness” claimed by the USPTO.

Under the legal standard, the mark itself must be “shocking,” and “calling out for condemnation.” Kink has argued through that this particular word’s prevalence in common conversation and popular culture discredits the argument that the American marketplace, and especially the adult internet marketplace, would be “shocked” by this registration. The previous appeal for whippedass was successfully argued on similar grounds.

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The iGasm gets Apple’s Panties in a Twist

May 23, 2007

Geez… and I thought Apple was the cool computer company….

The Mac Daily News reports that a sex shop in the UK is selling the iGasm, a little toy that attaches to the iPod and is intended to provide music-driven genital stimulation. Ann Summers, the retailer describes the iGasm as follows:

Load up your iPod with killa choons and take your appreciation of music to a whole new level. This genius little device hooks up to your iPod, MP3 player, laptop or CD player and vibrates in sync with the beat. Go at it hard and fast with a pounding drum and bass track or chill with the ambient classic. Just turn up the volume to increase the strength of the vibrations and believe us when we say that full whack is PHENOMENAL. And here’s a tip, you’ll make him the happiest man on the planet if you let him be DJ for the night.

The iPod attachment is displayed below:

Apparently, Apple is not disturbed by the name, nor by the fact that someone found a way to mate the iPod with a vibrator. However, the ad campaign for the iGasm is rubbing Apple’s lawyers the wrong way. Here is the ad that drew Apple’s ire:


Of course, this is all UK based, but when we threw the tea into Boston Harbor, we weren’t throwing their trademark law into the water along with their taxes. Nevertheless, I’ll just comment from a US perspective.

I can see Apple’s point. The silhouette and white cord has become a very distinctive source identifier for Apple’s products. On the other hand, there might be some interesting and creative fair use arguments.

One thing is for certain, with one “haughty” demand letter (as described on News of the World), I would imagine that Apple has just boosted sales of the iGasm to levels that Ann Summers never could have imagined.

Not Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita”

May 9, 2007

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Adult Video News and The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports on the suit between International Media Films Inc. and Manhattan filmmaker Andrei Treivas Bregman. The complaint alleges trademark and copyright infringement for the X-rated films he made under his industry name, Michael Lucas. The lawsuit seeks to stop sales of the gay-themed adult films, “Michael Lucas’ La Dolce Vita” Parts 1 and 2. The judge in the case recently denied International’s request that he enjoin Lucas from distributing the film, citing “inexcusable delay” in waiting 5 months to seek the injunction.

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