On November 16, 2015, the TTAB reversed an Examining Attorney’s refusal to register the trade name LEFT NUT BREWING CO. for beer, finding it was not immoral or scandalous.
The Examining Attorney submitted five dictionary definitions indicating that “nut” is considered vulgar when used to refer to a testicle. Though the term “left nut” does not appear in standard dictionaries, the online Urban Dictionary provides various definitions, including: (1) “a part of one’s anatomy that one would sacrifice to experience something exceptional”; (2) “The back seat of a car directly behind the driver”; (3) “The act of beating someones [sic] ass, without any effort”; (4) “An insult to one, usually stupid . . . always sagging, or sticking out.” The Examining Attorney also introduced various Internet articles and other website excerpts using the term “left nut” in various contexts, such as:
- The DMV can Suck My Left Nut, the onion.com;
- [U.S. Senator] Alan Simpson’s Advice to Reporter: “Grab Your Left Nut For Luck”, huffingtonpost.com;
- Should I get a 2nd Opinion On My Sore Left Nut, metafilter.com (discussing when to seek medical help);
- Top Five Things You’d Give Your Left Nut To Do, epictv.com;
- I would Give My Left Nut To Play Ball and Party With This Year’s Phillies Phantasy Camp Roster, barstoolsports.com;
- “Grab your left nut, make your right one jealous,” from the song Just Lose It, by Eminem;
- “At one point or other, most of us have said something like, ‘I’d give my left nut if I could….”, talkingaboutmenshealth.com (discussing surgical errors);
- “Hey left nut? … What right nut? … Who’s the penis between us?”, someecards.com;
- “Lance Armstrong Exchanged Left Nut for Steroids”, bsgossip.com.
Based on this evidence, the Examining Attorney concluded that the meaning of LEFT NUT, considered as a whole, was clearly limited to the vulgar meaning referring to the left testicle.
The applicant argued that the name is not immoral or scandalous because dictionary definitions show that “left nut” has a number of non-vulgar meanings. Additionally, the applicant submitted evidence of equally suggestive “nut” marks that have been registered, such as MY HUSBAND’S NUTS for “candied, shelled, roasted and seasoned” nuts, SMELL MY NUTS for scented candles, MY FAMILY’S NUTS for “candied, shelled, roasted and seasoned nuts,” and HAVE SOME GUTS . . . CHECK YOUR NUTS for wristbands. Finally, the applicant argued that anatomical references are not per se vulgar.
The Board agreed with the applicant, and was particularly persuaded by the varied dictionary definitions and the similarly-suggestive “nut” marks. It also found that “left nut” is not always vulgar “even when sometimes referring to a testicle.” For example, the Board found that the Examining Attorney’s Internet excerpts presented a mixed picture of the vulgarity of the term, noting that four of them use it to mean something of great value, and two use it in a strictly anatomical or medical sense. Only The Onion article, the Eminem lyric, and the someecards.com website used the term in a primarily vulgar form. The varied use of the term suggested that anatomical references alone are not vulgar.
Finally, the Board was persuaded by the fact that many people (including a U.S. senator) have used the term “left nut” with no evidence of offense or disapproval.
The case is In re Left Nut Brewing, Serial No. 85935569 (TTAB Nov. 16, 2015).
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