Sex Toy Maker Can't Trademark 'Skittles' Line

Nov 21, 2016 1:52 PM PST

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last month terminated a trademark application made by U.K.-based CMG Leisure Ltd. over its "Skittles" line of sex toys.

The USPTO cancelled the pleasure products maker’s application after it was challenged by candy giant William Wrigley Jr. Co., which said its Skittles candy brand that has its own trademark faced "dilution by tarnishment."

Last year, CMG Leisure, based out of Callington Cornwall, England, applied to register the mark “Skittles” for "electric vibrating massager" and "sex toys" with the USPTO.

In doing so, the company, which sells the Doxy Massager, acknowledged that the name “Skittles” would "immediately brings to mind the well-known confection," but that it would do so for a very specific purpose — erotic pleasure.

"As applied to applicant's products, the mark connotes a titillating sweetness and innocence, presented as a sensually subversive contrast to what consumers might consider a 'taboo' product," CMG Leisure wrote during the application process. "The cutesy name, with its association to something as benign as candy, additionally suggests that applicant's products are harmless and normal, and consumers should not be ashamed to purchase them."

Wrigley attorneys, however, immediately filed a claim with the USPTO to cancel the application. The "applicant has admitted the fame of opposer's 'Skittles' mark and the association with opposer's candy that its products will illicit," they said.
 
"Applicant's use of the 'Skittles' mark for sex toys is also likely to cause dilution of the 'Skittles' marks, which are used on confections enjoyed by minors and bought by parents for minors, by tarnishing the reputation of the 'Skittles' mark," Wrigley attorneys wrote.

In late October, the USPTO officially refused the “Skittles” sex toy application after CMG Leisure failed to respond to Wrigley’s claims.

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