Monday, March 23, 2009

Hip TTAB Finds "STRIP HOP" Merely Descriptive of Adult Entertainment Services

For our latest addition to the WYHA collection of cases, consider the mark STRIP HOP for "adult entertainment services, namely, live performances by exotic dancers, night clubs and cabarets featuring alcoholic drinks and food." Can you dig it? The Board couldn't. It affirmed a Section 2(e)(1) refusal to register, finding the mark merely descriptive of Applicant John Rotolo's intended services. In re Rotolo, Serial No. 77008616 (February 17, 2009) [not precedential].

Lil Jon

Examining Attorney Giancarlo Castro maintained that the term "strip hop" is "commonly used to refer to a genre or type of music and dance style; and that applicant’s identified adult entertainment services encompass 'strip hop' music and dance." Applicant Rotolo limply contended that the mark is "a play on words in the classic sense of a coined or suggestive trademark."

The Examining Attorney submitted various Lexis and Internet excerpts showing that "strip hop" is "used descriptively to refer to a type of music and style of dance." For example, a Newsweek article called Atlanta the "center of the strip hop universe;" the Chicago Tribune, in an article entitled "'Booty shake' beginnings," stated that "[t]he beginnings of strip-hop can be traced back nearly two decades to 2 LiveCrew;" and the Arizona Daily Star referred to Lil' Kim as "[n]o mere strip-hop diva," but a singer-songwriter who "spins tough, lyric-driven tales of modern-day womanhood."

Based on this evidence, the Board had "no doubt that prospective customers for applicant’s services would understand STRIP HOP to describe the music and dance to be featured at applicant’s night clubs and cabarets." Although only one of the proffered excerpts used the term "strip hop" in connection with adult entertainment services, the Board found that:

The descriptive significance of the term “strip hop” as used in these excerpts is equally applicable to adult entertainment services. This is especially the case since several of the excerpts reference the risqué nature of "strip hop," e.g., "X-rated lyrics," sexual moves," "stripper moves," "hot booty shaking," and "Booty-licious dance."

And so, the Board affirmed the refusal to register.

TTAB query: So, fellow music lovers, would you have appealed?

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2009.

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