Thursday, March 03, 2005

TTAB Finds "TWATTY GIRL" Not Immoral or Scandalous

The TTAB reversed a Section 2(a) refusal to register the mark TWATTY GIRL, finding it not immoral or scandalous for "cartoon strips, cartoon prints and newspaper cartoons." In re Watkins, Serial No. 76138675 (February 8, 2005) [not citable].

The Examining Attorney, relying on dictionary definitions of "twat" and of the suffix "-y" and on GOOGLE search results, maintained that TWATTY GIRL is "offensive to the conscience of a substantial composite of the general public," because "twat" is a vulgar term for a woman's vagina or genital area. The GIRL portion of the mark merely "adds to the immoral or scandalous connotation of the mark," the Examining Attorney argued.

Applicant Ava Watkins introduced an online dictionary (indicating that "twatty" means "daft"), along with the results of an Internet GOOGLE search and various website printouts showing that "twatty" has a different meaning than "twat." Thus, Watkins argued, the PTO "cannot fairly rely on dictionary definitions of a different word, 'twat,' in refusing registration."

Applicant also submitted several alternative, non-vulgar uses of TWAT -- as acronyms for "The War Against Terror," "The War Against Tobacco," and "Texas Women Anglers Tournament" -- but that evidence had little effect (other than to provide the TTABlog with the opportunity to include illustrations with this otherwise problematical posting).

The Board noted the Examining Attorney's argument that, generally, the addition of "y" to a word with a strong connotation does not alter its meaning, but pointed out that "the viability of the argument is greatly diminished when the new adjectival term has a non-vulgar meaning as in the present case."

Recognizing that any doubt as to the immoral or scandalous nature of a mark must be resolved in favor of the Applicant, the Board reversed the refusal to register.

One side note of interest: part of Applicant's proof of non-vulgar use of TWATTY came from British websites. Nonetheless, "given that the Internet websites originating in the United Kingdom are easily accessible in this country," the Board gave that evidence "some probative weight." That particular ruling continues a gradually growing trend toward greater acceptance of Internet evidence from foreign websites in view of its ready accessibility.

Text ©John L. Welch 2005. All Rights Reserved.


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