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Some Pell City utility customers may have suffered data breach (free content)  Daily Home Online
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Boston University Applies For Trademark On Offensive COVID-19 Awareness Slogan For Some Reason

Anyone who knows anything about me knows how much I both love and rely on profanity. Love, because profane language is precisely the sort of color the world needs more of. Rely on, because I use certain profane words the way most people use commas. So, when the courts decided that even the most profane words could be used in trademarks, I applauded. Fucks were literally given.

But not every piece of profanity deserves a trademark. And, while I again applaud Boston University’s decision to create a profane slogan around COVID-19 safety awareness for its student body, why in the actual fuck did the slogan have to be trademarked?

First, the context:

Boston University asked a group of communications students for help encouraging their peers to follow the school’s strict COVID-19 safety guidelines when they return to campus for the upcoming semester.

What it got back was a slogan that did not mince words.

Last week, BU officials filed a trademark application for the slogan “F*ck It Won’t Cut It” in order to promote “public awareness of safe and smart actions and behaviors for college and university students in a COVID-19 environment.” The filing first garnered attention after a trademark lawyer flagged it Tuesday morning on Twitter.

On the slogan, fuck yeah! In fact, pretty good for a Methodist school! But on the trademark application, what the fuck? I have serious questions as to whether the application even meets the criteria for a valid mark to begin with. How, precisely, is this being used in commerce? What good or service is this trademark supposed to identify a source for? Schooling? Not really. Healthcare? Nah. What precisely are we doing here?

“Our slogan is a powerful phrase that sparks a reminder for students to make safe choices at decision points each day, because saying ‘F-it’ to responsible protocols won’t keep us on campus,” Hailey McKee, a BU graduate student and public relations manager for the campaign, told the Boston Business Journal.

Well, sure, but why hell does this need to be siloed to Boston U via trademark? The school really doesn’t want its sister universities to be able to raise effective awareness using the slogan as well? Why not?

This feels ultimately like another long-tail outcome of permission culture and expansive IP enforcement, where an entity just defaults to wanting to claim IP on all the things. But the world would be better if leading institutions like BU… you know… did better.


Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pet Just Applied For Trademark On Jingle For Some R-R-R-Reason

I’ll forgive you if you haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about Chia Pets lately. This is, after all, 2020 and not the 90s and we a couple of things going on that have probably held your attention. If you’re so young that you don’t remember these things, they’re essential potted plants shaped like a variety of animals, objects, and celebrities, laden with grass seeds that grow and look like hair and oh my god why is this a thing? Regardless, the product, first developed in the 70s, became popularized in the 90s and was advertised with a well-known jingle: ch-ch-ch-Chia! While Chia Pets are still sold today, they are no longer the cultural icon that they were in these earlier times.

And yet, for some reason, it was only this past week that the folks behind Chia Pets decided to try to trademark that famous jingle.

Standard Character Claim: No

Mark Drawing Type: 6 – NO DRAWING-SENSORY MARK

Description of the Mark: The mark consists of the sung words CH CH CH CHIA in the notes E4, E4, E4, A4, G4.

Now, while that trademark description does indeed look decidedly silly, it certainly is possible to trademark sounds and jingles. The bar for trademarking sounds is a bit higher than other marks, mostly centering on the public’s association with a sensory mark and a product, but Chia Pets’ jingle probably fits the bill.

This means that sound marks – just like visual trademarks – may be easily registered when they are:

“arbitrary, unique or distinctive and can be used in a manner so as to attach to the mind of the liste­ner and be awakened on later hearing in a way that would indicate for the listener that a particular product or service was coming from a particular, even if anonymous, source.”

It’s worth noting that any jingle like the above would also be immediately covered by copyright protection upon creation. That’s one of the many factors that has me wondering why in the world this trademark had to be applied for in 2020. Add to that the waning notoriety of Chia Pets and its jingle generally, along with my having never heard of anything remotely like any competitors in the “Clay planters for flowers and plants” industry trying to use the jingle, and this all becomes all the more confusing.

Why, after fifty years in business and decades of using this jingle, does it need to suddenly be protected by trademark law?