Corbin Fisher Says CFU Logo Is Phallic but Not Scandalous

Aug 19, 2011 12:00 PM PST

LAS VEGAS — Phallic imagery is hardly shocking in the U.S.

So why is an examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office blocking Corbin Fisher's attempt to trademark its Corbin Fisher University logo?

Because its circled emblem includes a tower and obelisk that is, Corbin Fisher admits, phallic in nature.

According to the Trademark Act, examiners can bar registration of "immoral" or "scandalous" marks.

Corbin Fisher is appealing the examiner's decision to reject the mark, which said, “The depiction of male genitals in connection with adult entertainment services is shocking to the sense of decency or propriety."

The examiner went on to say that "while the applicant has indicated in the drawing description that the design is of a 'tower,' the mark clearly identifies male genitalia because of the circular design at the base of the design and the shape of the design at the top. None of these elements are present in a traditional design of a tower or obelisk.”

But Corbin Fisher general counsel Marc Randazza noted in a response to the Patent and Trademark Office that all "conventional towers and obelisks are intentional derivatives of a phallus — meant to portray strength, fertility and power."

"The proposed mark is a tower and all towers are in fact phallic symbols," Randazza wrote. "The rejection, if left to stand, would operate to ban any tower-imagery for the [USPTO] Principal Register."

"The applicant should not be denied the right to protect these alpha-male characteristics just because the USPTO feels threatened by them.  After all, America is an alpha nation, and such a beta position cuts against the very fabric of the symbolism that tells the tale of the American experience."

Randazza, who included in his response brief 17 exhibits of "phallic in nature" towers, requested the examiner to rule that CFU is a "non-scandalous mark."

"In the alternative, the examiner could find that on the Internet, phallic imagery is neither scandalous nor immoral," he wrote. "Furthermore, as a fallback position, the examiner should find that phallic imagery is neither scandalous nor immoral in the context of the relevant sub-market of online adult subject matter."

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