I've visited the studio where this site and other Kink.com properties are produced, and met some of the folks behind it (and in front of it, and on top of it, and -- ok ok sorry). They're the most health/safety-conscious porn biz people I've ever met, and many of the employees are very friendly, geeky hacker/maker/ex-dotcom folk. It's a cool space, and by all appearances, one of the most responsibly-run adult entertainment companies around.
Anyway, fuckingmachines launched in 2000. Five years later, the company behind it asked the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the word "fuckingmachines," to protect their IP rights. According to a feature in the Orlando Weekly....
Cybernet’s request met the government’s most preliminary standard: No one else was using the word “fuckingmachines.” But it didn’t clear another, more important hurdle: The patent office believes the word “fuck” is “scandalous,” and won’t allow Cybernet owner Peter Acworth to trademark it, or any variation of it.
“Registration is refused because the proposed mark consists of or comprises immoral or scandalous matter,” wrote Michael Engel, the attorney who reviewed the case for the government. “The term ‘fucking’ is an offensive and vulgar reference to the act of sex. … A mark that is deemed scandalous ... is not registrable.”
In other words, the federal government decides which words are and are not scandalous, and “fuck” falls on the immoral side of that divide. It’s been that way since 1905, according to documents included in Cybernet’s trademark application case, when federal guidelines for trademarks were first spelled out. Times may have changed, but the trademark office’s standards haven’t.
Images: coupla phonecam snapshots I took on the kink.com set last year.
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Reader comment: Marc J. Randazza says,
Here is a PDF link to the actual legal arguments in the case.