18 November 2015

Anyone for Coffee?

The owner of a South London-based coffee shop has vowed to file another trade mark application and this time for the term ‘F*ckoffee’, after the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) rejected its first application for the word but with the expletive spelled out in full for being “highly offensive”.

The application was filed for services including restaurant services, education services and restaurant information services.

 A photo of the UKIPO’s letter rejecting the trade mark application was tweeted by the shop in late October 2015.

 The trade mark examiner cited section 3 of the 1994 UK Trade Marks Act, which prohibits registration of a mark that is “contrary to public policy or to accepted principles of morality”.

 The letter stated “The mark contains the highly offensive word ‘f**k’ prominently positioned at the beginning of the mark. Although, the letter ‘c’ from the word ‘coffee’ is missing and the two words are conjoined, the highly offensive word ‘f**k’ remains very obvious in the mark”.

An application for the mark was filed on 19 November 2014 and the final refusal was issued by the UKIPO in March this year.

Nevertheless, the coffee shop continued to operate under the name until late October 2015 when the shop received a letter from its landlord’s lawyers demanding the removal of the “offensive” sign or face further legal action or the forfeiture of its lease.

On 27 October 2015, the shop confirmed it had changed the name to ‘f*ckoffee’ and two days later tweeted a photograph of the refusal letter from UKIPO, adding: “we will try f*ckoffee now”, indicating that it would file an application for the mark. The asterisk does not really change the message that the mark conveys and so the choices of trade mark protection remain unlikely. This is not French Connection’s FCUK after all.

We will certainly be keeping our eyes peeled for the new application!


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