USPTO Denies ‘Cum’ Trademark Status

Michael Hayes
WASHINGTON — The phrase “you cum like a girl” won’t be eligible for trademark protection, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which denied the request made by a Los Angeles-area comedian to register the slogan.

Saying that the word “cum” was “directly associated with degrading sexual acts,” USPTO examining attorney Patrick Shanahan declined Cathy Carlson’s request to trademark the phrase, which she uses in conjunction with her clothing line and comedy act.

“The term ‘cum’ as it relates to men and women has no other connotation than the sexual connotation of an orgasmic ejaculation,” Shanahan said. “A mark that is deemed scandalous under Section 2(a) is not registrable.”

In support of his decision to deny Carlson’s request, Shanahan included scores of photos obtained from Google image search after entering the term “cum.”

Carlson joked in response to Shanahan’s efforts to document the word’s vulgar meaning.

“He could have sent one picture,” she said. “He sent 10 megabytes.”

Carlson said she created the phrase as part of her act in an effort to reclaim the language from its vulgar meaning.

“Facials, pearl necklaces, happy endings — those are actually things that are precious to women, and guys have taken them and used them pornographically,” Carlson said. “So I started taking phrases and using them so they couldn’t have them anymore. ‘You cum like a girl’ was one of those things.”

Shanahan denied Carlson’s request in February. Her appeal, which was crafted with the help of patent attorney Matthew Jodziewicz, included examples of protected phrases the comic said she found profane. The phrases included “Evil Pussy,” “Wimpy Dicks” and “Just Suck It.”

Shanahan’s recent 16-page response, complete with scores of cumshots, marked the USPTO’s final decision.

Pointing out that the USPTO had approved a trademark for an adult distribution company to protect the phrase “Cum Together,” Carlson said she thought the examiner’s decision suggested a male bias.

Carlson has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union about appealing the USPTO’s decision in court.