Test Your TTAB Judge-Ability: Is "I BANGED BETTY" Scandalous or Immoral Under Section 2(a)?
The PTO refused registration of the mark I BANGED BETTY for "bathing suits for men; men’s and women’s jackets, coats, trousers, vests; men’s underwear," deeming it to be scandalous or immoral under Section 2(a). Applicant argued that "bang" has many non-vulgar meanings, and also (somewhat contradictorily, the Board noted) that "bang" has become a common and accepted synonym for you-know-what. What do you think? In re Betty Bangs, LLC, Serial No. 85386222 (July 9, 2013) [not precedential].
The Board affirmed the refusal. Because this is a family blog, we will not go into the details of the Board's reasoning. Suffice it to say that the Board found the applied-for mark to be "vulgar to a substantial composite of the general population."
Applicant pointed to its existing registration of BETTY BANGS for bathing suits, and to several third-party registrations, but the Board noted that "[n]one of these registrations comprises even the term 'banged,' much less a vulgar declarative sentence in a form similar to applicant's mark." Moreover, as we know, each case must be decided on its own merits and the Board is "not bound by the allowance of prior registrations, even if they have some characteristics similar to the application."
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TTABlog comment: Well, how did you do? For a full discussion of the application of the "immoral or scandalous" bar of Section 2(a), see Anne Gilson LaLonde and Jerome Gilson, "Trademarks Laid Bare: Marks That May Be Scandalous Or Immoral," 101 Trademark Reporter 1476 (September-October 2011). [pdf here].
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2013.