Real Estate Developer Seeks Trademark for 'Playboy'

Rhett Pardon

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Playboy Enterprises International has filed a claim with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office over a Canadian man's application to register "Playboy" in conjunction with his business as real estate broker and developer.

But Playboy's target, Jerzy Makarczyk of Toronto, says the word "playboy" is commonplace, and that he has every right to exploit it.

He recently told the USPTO that he wants to use "Playboy" for a real estate brand "associated with quality and luxury."  

Makarczyk said that the word has a history of its own that goes far longer back than the adult entertainment brand. He said that he applied for the registration of the "Playboy" trademark based on the origin and history of the word dating as far back as 17th or 18th century, "which later on became synonymous with wealth and high life."

"There have been many 'Playboy' companies or products such as 'Playboy Potato' [in] North Carolina dating to 1930s or 'Playboy Cars' [in] New York [as] manufactured in the 1940s," Makarczyk said. "'Playboy' is a word used in English vocabulary since the 17th century. Opposer has been  a publisher of pornographic magazines, as well as so-called 'hard core pornography'  websites and movies since [the] 1950s." 

Makarczyk, who applied for the trademark in April 2012, told the USPTO that he wants his application approved and that he won't compete in any way with Playboy Enterprises International's trademarks beyond real estate.

"In the light of numerous lawsuits, scandals and the use of nude women and pornography for profit as well as mostly failed enterprises, notably Playboy clubs, applicant does not intend to capitalize on opposer’s trademarks in any way," Makarczyk said.

Counsel for Playboy Enterprises International did not return XBIZ queries over the matter, but they said in court papers that they believe the brand will damaged by registration of the mark.

Makarczyk also did not respond for XBIZ comment for this article.

Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Playboy Enterprises International, which calls itself a brand-licensing company, has trademarked scores of products and services through the years.

The company, now private, is primarily owned by its founder Hugh Hefner, who is listed as chief creative officer.

Playboy's lengthy list of trademarks for products include its signature Playboy magazine, make-up products, fragrances, incense, herbal supplements, liquid nutraceuticals, key chains, fobs, pillows, bead curtains, stuffed animals, furniture, mirrors, figurines, prerecorded media (adult DVDs), ski goggles, cellphones, cellphone covers, sunglasses, slot machines, calendars, condoms, jewelry, body piercing jewelry, watches, clocks, cuff links, guitars, playing cards, posters, dart boards, pet apparel, billfolds, pet beds, sports bags, bath accessories, glassware, bed linens, lingerie, robes, garter belts, Halloween costumes, smoking jackets, footwear, T-shirts, ski jackets, adult toys, golf equipment, belt buckles, casino games, energy drinks, chocolate candies, cigarette lighters, cigars, mints and gum.

It also has trademarks for services, including adult entertainment programming services, casino and nighclub services, a model agency service supplying live models for business purposes, mobile services and organized sporting events, as well as marks for hotels, restaurants and cocktail lounges.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has scheduled an April trial date for the case.