* Trademarks That Suck

Lessons learned from suck-related registered trademarks.

Sometimes the government screws up. Like when funny license plates get issued. The Internet is full of funny.

Funny trademarks abound. When you file a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), it is examined by Trademark Examiners (who are lawyers) and (if it passes their scrutiny) then it is published in the Trademark Official Gazette, a special publication read only by lawyers. OK, it’s not just available to lawyers, but the data is not exactly user-friendly (PDF format, no feed, sheesh). And as a result, there is no meaningful public input to the trademark registration process.

Heck, a court in Maine just ruled that legal notice via a printed newspaper is insufficient because papers lack a wide audience. Notice by PDF should be next on the list.

So what do we get from inadequate public review of trademark applications? Some trademarks that should never have issued. Sure, third parties can object by filing a Letter of Protest with the USPTO, but that process is obscure and formalistic (i.e. fun for lawyers). I’d like to see a USPTO Trademark Official Gazette blog with anonymous comments enabled. That would be fun (i.e. fun for non-lawyers).

Before you read the list below, think about what a good trademark – and a good brand – is supposed to do. With strong brands, the brand reminds the consumer of the goods/services offered. Like one of those ink blot tests:

  • See a swoosh symbol, think Nike shoes.
  • See golden arches, think McDonald’s restaurants.
  • Hear the word “Toyota,” think cars.

But if there’s no association made, then the brand is weak. And if no association is necessary, then the trademark is weak. So if you see a trademark for “Town Book Store” and you think, “Hey, I bet they sell books!” then the trademark is probably descriptive and should never have been registered by the USPTO.

There are other subtleties. Such as case. Case matters for trademarks and domain names. The USPTO search results show trademarks in ALL CAPS. I think that trademarks should be presented in their intended case. Because there is a world of difference between PenIsland.com (pen store) and PenisLand.com (something else).

Now read the table of suck-related trademarks. Don’t click the TARR links yet. Do any of these jump out at you? Below, I’ll tell you which jumped out at me.

No. Registered Trademark USPTO Status
1 BECAUSE JAIL SUCKS TARR
2 BECAUSE JAIL SUCKS TARR
3 BECAUSE MOSQUITOES SUCK! TARR
4 BECAUSE SEARCHING SUCKS! TARR
5 CANCER SUCKS TARR
6 CAREERS THAT DON T SUCK. SINCE YOU GOTTA WORK… TARR
7 CHEMSUCK TARR
8 CHERRY-PICKED PODCASTS THAT DON’T SUCK TARR
9 CHUPA CHUPS MOCHA FLAVOUR MOCHA TARR
10 CHUPA GURTS TARR
11 CORPORATE COFFEE SUCKS. TARR
12 CRASHIN’ SUCKS TARR
13 CREMOSA BY CHUPA CHUPS TARR
14 CUZ READING THE MANUAL SUCKS! TARR
15 DOES YOUR CREDIT SUCK TARR
16 DOES YOUR TACKLE BAG SUCK? TARR
17 DOWN TIME SUCKS TARR
18 DRUNK DRIVING SUKZ TARR
19 EMERGENCIES SUCK TARR
20 ENERGY VAMPIRES SUCK TARR
21 EVERYTHING SUCKS TARR
22 GAMES THAT DON’T SUCK TARR
23 GO SUCK A FROG! TARR
24 GRAVITY SUCKS TARR
25 HIJACKERSUCK TARR
26 HOOVER TARR
27 HS HATERS SUCK.COM TARR
28 IF IT DOESN’T SUCK INK FROM A BOTTLE, IT’S NOT A REAL PEN TARR
29 IT DOESN’T SUCK TARR
30 ITDUZNTSUK TARR
31 JUST SUCK IT TARR
32 PARA CHUPARSE LOS DEDOS TARR
33 REALLY-SUCKS TARR
34 RENT SUCKS TARR
35 SECOND SUCKS TARR
36 STILE SUCKS TARR
37 SUCK TARR
38 SUCK TARR
39 SUCK & BLOW TARR
40 SUCK BANG BLOW TARR
41 SUCK BUCKET TARR
42 SUCK IT TARR
43 SUCK IT UP TARR
44 SUCK IT UP TARR
45 SUCK IT UP IT’S TASTY! TARR
46 SUCK IT UP! TARR
47 SUCK THE RED FOX TARR
48 SUCK UPS TARR
49 SUCK-ET TARR
50 SUCK-UP TARR
51 SUCKAFROG TARR
52 SUCKBUCKS TARR
53 SUCKFIZZLE TARR
54 SUCKITUP TARR
55 SUCKUPS TARR
56 SUK TARR
57 SUKUP TARR
58 THAT SUCKS TARR
59 TIME SUCKS TARR
60 TOSSED OFF TRY TO SURVIVE TRY NOT TO SUCK TARR
61 USUK TARR
62 WE SHUCKUM-YOU SUCK’UM SHUCKUMS OYSTER PUB TARR
63 WE SUCK YOUR GUTTERS CLEAN TARR
64 YOUR HAIR SUCKS TARR
65 YOUR HAIR SUCKS TARR


#1 and #2 – BECAUSE JAIL SUCKS.
I include these to show that one trademark can have multiple registrations covering different goods and services. So no funny business here.

#8 – CHERRY-PICKED PODCASTS THAT DON’T SUCK. Hmm, I wonder if this trademark covers services for podcasts? Sure sounds descriptive to me.

#63 – WE SUCK YOUR GUTTER CLEAN. Same issue as above. I’m guessing this is a suction-based gutter cleaning service. Descriptive.

#26 – HOOVER. I just wanted to make sure you’re paying attention. This trademark has been in use for over 100 years and the association it creates is very strong: vacuum cleaners. Strong brand, strong trademark.

#30 – ITDUZNTSUK. A good example of why case matters. See ITDUZNTSUK, think ItDoesn’tSuck.

#52 – SUCKBUCKS. I saw this and immediately (ink-blot like) thought of StarBucks coffee shops because of the “Bucks” suffix. Just like McFoo reminds me of McDonald’s and Bar-R-US reminds me of Toys-R-Us. I actually thought “SuckBucks” was a play on “StarBucks Sucks.” Sure enough, they offer tea and coffee. Whether intentional or not, actual confusion was created in the mind of this consumer. If I were StarBucks, I’d say this trademark sucks.

#47 – SUCK THE RED FOX. Saving the best (or worst) for last. I don’t know if there is a word for when letters are swapped in a phrase to mask the true meaning (sort of like Pig Latin), but that’s what happened in this case. Pardon my language, but I want Google to index this. SUCK THE RED FOX means FUCK THE RED SOX, and any moron in a hurry who sees the products (click on “Specimens”) will realize this.

#47 is Terry Francona’s uniform number. And it’s opening day for the Red Sox. The Red Sox considered opposing this trademark but did not pursue the opposition. Why, Theo, why?

Now that’s a trademark that sucks!

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