Celebrities and political scandals may nab most news headlines, but it seems even the modest world of trademark law is entitled to its 15 minutes of fame.
Last November, in an unusual detour from business as usual, an AdvisorLaw client found its trademark registration temporarily denied due to a linguistic and cultural misunderstanding. The name of the client’s restaurant, Fuku, which is a Japanese word meaning good fortune, wealth, and prosperity, was rejected for sounding reminiscent of an all-too-common English expletive.
The Florida Department of State, in its initial response, did not approve the trademark on the grounds that it contained “immoral, deceptive or scandalous matter.” However, upon further action by AdvisorLaw to explain the name’s meaning, the trademark was approved.
The story should have ended there, but when a local news station managed to catch wind of the controversy, it was not long before Fuku found itself in the spotlight on Anderson Cooper 360°. While it’s nice to receive the support of Anderson Cooper, who found the puritanical judgment of the State of Florida ridiculous, we should remember that behind even these moments of levity are serious clients who are trying to start real businesses.
Without their trademark in hand, the owners of Fuku would have been vulnerable to its name being used and misused by rival businesses, potentially costing them large sums of money. AdvisorLaw is pleased to have resolved the matter before it came to that. Our clients have a right to trademark, whether considered profane or not. Moreover, when ambiguities exist, we as individuals should take it upon ourselves to investigate underlying meanings before jumping to conclusions.
The Fuku incident may not represent the daily work-load at AdvisorLaw, but our swift response is indicative of our commitment to taking each client’s case seriously and resolving every dilemma.