Sometimes trademark cases in other countries are just too entertaining not to mention here, and the controversy over Nuckin Futs in Australia certainly fits that description.
When the company that produces Nuckin Futs, a nut-based snack, tried to trademark the name in Australia, the Trade Mark Examiner rejected the application. The phrase was judged to be an “obvious spoonerism” (of “f***ing nuts”) that could not be trademarked because it was scandalous under section 42 of Australia’s Trade Marks Act, which prohibits registrations of such marks (similar to Section 2(a) of the 1946 Lanham Act (also called The Trademark Act) in the United States). (Note the space between “trade” and “mark” that Australia inserts, versus the one-word version used in the US).
But the lawyer for the company argued that the words “f***” and “f***ing” are “now part of the universal discourse of the ordinary Australian” and, therefore, not offensive. (Interesting then that the lawyer chose to make both permutations elliptical, rather than say the words.)
The company’s filing stated, “We submit that whilst there may be a mere sentimental objection or mere distaste to NUCKIN FUTS, this is not a sufficient ground for rejection of the Trade Mark, particularly since a substantial number of people would not find the words shocking.”
The Examiner apparently credited this and reversed direction, approving the registration on the condition that Nuckin Futs wouldn’t be marketed to children. The company agreed that the product would only be available in adult venues such as pubs and nightclubs.
American readers may recognize the phrase as the catchphrase of the protagonist in the 2003 film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, starring David Spade, as an Adobe Flash-based animation by JibJab, or even as a hot sauce popular in the south.
Can you guess which of these holds the trademark for Nuckin’ Futs in the United States?
If you chose the hot sauce, you’re correct! Porky’s Gourmet, Inc. of Gallatin, Tennessee registered this trademark in 2002 with apparently less controversy.
Would you find Nuckin’ Futs offensive?