Back in 1984 Thomas Pink started using PINK to sell men’s clothing. They have since branched out to women’s apparel.
In 2001, Victoria’s Secret started using PINK for their line aimed at younger women and girls.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, no doubt you’re thinking:
They’re using the same exact word, in kinda similar fonts.
They’re both selling apparel, in branded stand-alone stores. (The pictures were both taken in Manhattan.)
They’ve both achieved a level of fame with their brands.
You’re also thinking:
Thomas Pink is targeted at professional men (and women) and Victoria’s Secret Pink is targeted at teenage girls. The Thomas Pink store in Manhattan is on Wall Street and the VS Pink store is in SoHo.
The fonts are similar because they’re blocky and have serifs, but they have a different feel. VS’s Pink is a college-banner sorta font and Thomas Pink is more an engraver’s font.
If a middle-aged banker walked into the VS Pink store, he wouldn’t be confused for long. Ditto with a teenaged girl in a Thomas Pink store.
Should these two apparel brands both be allowed to use PINK?
Mr. Justice Birss of the High Court of Justice in London ruled in 2014 that VS’s use of PINK would result in Thomas Pink’s trademark being “associated with a mass market offering, reducing its luxurious reputation.”
But what do you think about Pink? It’s hard, isn’t it? And that’s what makes trademark law fun.
But what about the part of Section 2(a) that prohibits registration of immoral or scandalous trademarks. “When, oh when, will the courts deal with that?” you ask.
You’ll be happy to know the Court of Appeals is currently considering whether Erik Brunetti will be allowed to register FUCT for athletic and infant apparel.
They should have sold tickets to the oral argument.
Mr. Brunetti argued that FUCT isn’t scandalous because it’s pronounced “F” “U” “C” “T”. The court asked about an ad featuring people wearing FUCT brand shirts while flipping off the camera. Mr. Brunetti’s lawyer had the enviable opportunity to tell the court that: “Giving the finger doesn’t necessarily mean that the T-shirt means ‘fucked’.”
The attorney for the government was asked by the court how the “scandalous” prohibition could be allowed to stand when the “disparaging” provision has been ruled unconstitutional: “What argument could even exist in the ether that would allow this provision to stand?”
How could the nice man answer that?
The Court’s question may be a tip off of where the court is heading. I’ll definitely let you know when there’s a ruling, but, for now, waddaya think? Should Mr. Brunetti be able to secure the additional rights that come with registering a trademark even if that trademark is FUCT?