No Resurrection for ‘Porno Jesus’ Trademark

     (CN) – Just in time for Easter, U.S. trademark officials refused to let a man to trademark the name “Porno Jesus” for a line of adult-entertainment products.
     Matthew Beck sought to register the mark “Porno Jesus” for use in various kinds of adult entertainment, including DVDs, photography and music videos.
     In its latest batch of final decisions, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board said that a trademark-examining attorney made the right call in refusing to register the mark.
     As grounds for denying the mark protection, that attorney had noted that the term “consists of or comprises immoral or scandalous matter” and “includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols,” according to the ruling.
     There is no dispute that the mark refers to the Jesus Christ who is the basis of the Christian faith, the three-judge panel found on March 19.
     “Thus, the likely meaning of the mark Porno Jesus, taken as a whole, is Jesus of Nazareth partaking of acts related to pornographic or sexually explicit materials,” Judge Peter Cataldo wrote for the board. “We believe that this would be the meaning ascribed to the mark no matter what the goods or services with which it is used, but particularly so in connection with the goods identified in the application.”
     Because the mark links Jesus with pornography, it may disparage Christian Americans, the ruling states.
     “The plain meaning of the terms comprising the mark Porno Jesus, which links Jesus with pornography, supports a finding that the mark may disparage Christian-Americans,” Cataldo wrote. “The connection between Jesus and pornographic or sexually explicit materials engendered by the mark is emphasized in this case inasmuch as the identification of goods indicates that applicant intends to use his mark in connection with sexually explicit materials.”
     Beck failed to sway the panel by noting that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has registered marks like “Hookers for Jesus” and “Redneck Jesus,” even though Christians might find such terms disparaging.
     “Applicant’s argument that other potentially disparaging or otherwise offensive marks consisting in part of the word Jesus have been registered cannot assist him in traversing a refusal to register a disparaging term,” Cataldo wrote. “It is well-established that even if marks in prior registrations have some characteristics similar to applicant’s mark, the USPTO’s allowance of such prior registrations does not bind the board.”
     As evidence that modern-day Christians are getting racier, Becker brought a third-party website dedicated to Christian pornography to the board’s attention.
     Beck’s website screenshot boasting videos of married couples doing their sacramental duties in an instructional manner meant little, however, to the board.
     “T]he existence of a sub-genre of Christian-themed pornography suggests that the larger body of pornography in general does not reflect Christian beliefs,” Cataldo found. “Moreover, applicant’s identification of goods does not restrict them to a type that theoretically may be acceptable to certain Christians.”

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