Kink.com Appeals URL Deemed 'Obscene'
FuckingMachines.com, a site whose URL accurately describes its content, launched in 2000, and Kink.com owner Peter Acworth first applied for a trademark with the government five years later. But because the patent office's trademark code deems "fuck" to be immoral and scandalous, Acworth's request was denied.
It is up to the federal government to define what words are immoral and what words are acceptable — "immoral" and "scandalous" are not defined by the code. The Orlando Weekly reports that 39 trademark petitions including the words "fuck" and "fucking" have been filed with the patent office, and none have been approved. "Bitch" and "ass" are allowed.
Michael Engel, the attorney who reviewed the case for the government, said that the word "fucking" is "an offensive and vulgar reference to the act of sex," and is a mark that is deemed scandalous. Therefore, he said, it cannot be registered.
Acworth's attorney, Marc Randazza, believes the rejection is unconstitutional, and that "the trademark office has gone off the deep end" with these sorts of trademark refusals.
Adult industry lawyer Robert Apgood told XBIZ he agrees with Randazza, and that he's noticed an excessive number of trademark requests rejected for containing "scandalous" material.
"It's really quite unfortunate that the executive branch is now reaching deep into the machinations of government to further its 'legislation of morality' agenda," Apgood said. "It is truly encouraging to see the likes of Acworth and Randazza take up this sorely needed fight."
Acworth said he doesn't want to become the spokesman for 1st Amendment rights in the adult industry; he merely wants to trademark his website titles. He was previously denied a trademark for Kink's WhippedAss.com, but the decision was overturned.
Acworth said in the meantime, the term FuckingMachines has been stolen — when he attempted to buy FuckingMachines.eu, he found it had already been purchased by an outside party. Instead of bringing the issue to court, however, Acworth simply bought the domain back.
Randazza said the trademark code, which was written in 1905 and has yet to be updated, is out-of-date with contemporary society. The words considered immoral at the time are now used frequently in mainstream speech and titles, he said, citing usage in movies, TV shows and even in common terminology.
“Fuck [can] play a role as a figurative term, for example, ‘to fuck’ can also mean ‘to deceive,’ Randazza wrote in his appeal. "It is a word of force that can assist us in our expressions of joy when used as an infix, as in ‘abso-fucking-lutely.' ‘Fuck’ helps us express rage when we scream ‘fuck you’ at a football referee, or at a motorist who has just cut us off in traffic. ‘Fuck’ is an old friend, who can always make us laugh.”
Randazza and Acworth now await a hearing before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.