TTAB Affirms Refusal of "DE PUTA MADRE" for Clothing as Immoral or Scandalous
If you are under 18 years of age, please click here. If you are 18 or older, you may read on. Finding the mark DE PUTA MADRE to be immoral or scandalous, the TTAB affirmed a Section 2(a) refusal to register that mark for various clothing items. In re Mexico 69 SRL, Serial No. 78361172 (August 7, 2006) [not citable].
Applicant stated that the English translation of its mark is "Whore Mother's," but Examining Attorney Nelson Snyder contended that the mark is a "vulgar, slang expression equivalent to 'FUCKING GREAT' in English." He relied on a declaration from the USPTO Technical Translator, with accompanying definitions of "de puta madre;" on definitions of "fucking," "whore," "motherfucker," and "son of a bitch;" and on website and Nexis excerpts.
Applicant, in turn, relied on Internet printouts, dictionary definitions, a Wikipedia entry, third-party registrations, and an expert's declaration, in arguing that the mark translated "colloquially in English to the complimentary and clearly inoffensive terms 'very well,' 'well done,' and/or 'great.'"
The Board stated the question to be "whether the evidence of record is sufficient to show that a substantial composite of the general public finds use of the term DE PUTA MADRE in connection with applicant's clothing 'scandalous' within the meaning of Section 2(a)." It noted that a "substantial portion" of the general public speaks Spanish, and that all of the Spanish dictionary definitions of record indicated that DE PUTA MADRE is "rude," "offensive," or "vulgar."
Applicant failed to rebut the PTO's prima facie case. Its expert's statements that DE PUTA MADRE is not considered offensive by the Spanish-speaking community and that the phrase would never be translated as "Fucking Great" were unsupported by documentary evidence and were "in fact, contradicted by the Spanish dictionary entries." Applicant's other evidence not only did not support its claim, in some instances it supported the PTO's position.
Finally, the fact that DE PUTA MADRE has a "positive meaning" does not detract from its vulgarity. "A vulgar term may be used with a positive or negative meaning but that does not remove it from offensive speech." Or to put it to you another way, "... 'really great' and 'fucking great' both have the same positive meaning but one expresses that meaning in an inoffensive manner and the other expresses it in a vulgar manner."
The Board did not doubt that the PTO had established DE PUTA MADRE to be scandalous or immoral.
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2006.