Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Obama bin Laden mark refused registration

An alert student in my trademark class pointed out this Smoking Gun report that OBAMA BIN LADEN has been refused registration for various promotional goods on multiple grounds. First, BIN LADEN is inherently scandalous because of its association with 9/11, and thus not registrable. Second, the mark falsely suggests an association with Barack Obama or Osama bin Laden. (Really? How many consumers would seriously think that? The mark falsely suggests an association between Obama and bin Laden, but not one that goes through the trademark owner.) Third, by using the names of identifiable living individuals without written consent, the mark falls afoul of 2(c) even absent false association.

I'm just surprised that the 2(a) refusals didn't include disparagement. If BIN LADEN is inherently scandalous, than associating it with Barack Obama should be disparaging.

Readers may also note that the examiner who refused the registration was also responsible for refusing LIAR LIAR BUSH ON FIRE and KATRINA BLOWS, BUSH SUCKS -- Karen Bush.


Anonymous said...

Even without all the hoopla about scandalousness and false association, the mark should have been refused registration on the grounds that it doesn't function as a trademark but is merely ornamental when applied to the goods.

Anonymous said...

Refused as ornamental? It was filed under Section 1(b) and there are no specimens of record.

See TMEP sec. 1202.03(e); "Ornamentation with Respect to Intent-to-Use Applications."

Generally, the issue of ornamentation is tied to the use of the mark as evidenced by the specimens. Therefore, no ornamentation refusal will be issued in an intent-to-use application until the applicant has submitted specimens of use with either an amendment to allege use under §1(c), or a statement of use under §1(d), 15 U.S.C. §§1051(c) or (d).