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FurryCon mark registration proceeds after initial denial

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FurryCon mark Soron's application to register the FurryCon logo as a service mark is proceeding, but only after the addition of a disclaimer of exclusive use of the term "furry con".

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office declined to register the New York state furry convention's name as a mark in August 2013, after identifying the terms 'furry' and 'con' as "merely descriptive":

“Furry” refers to “fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics.” - “Con” is a “common abbreviation for convention”.

At that time, a "furry" was also cited by the examiner as:

someone who is part of a subculture interested in fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics

Various Wikipedia and WikiFur articles were used as references, as well as George Gurley's "Pleasures of the Fur" in Vanity Fair, the Anthrocon, Furry 4 Life, Furry Fandom Infocenter, Furry Connection North and Georgia Furs websites, and a con report on SoFurry.

The attempt to register the con's logo as a mark this February was accepted for publication, but the descriptive nature of the text was noted, and the applicant was required to add a disclaimer stating that:

No claim is made to the exclusive right to use “FURRY CON” apart from the mark as shown.

This treatment stands in stark contrast to the process of registering WikiFur's own service mark in 2008, during which the USPTO required an amendment to make the application cover "anthropomorphic animals" on the basis that "furry fandom" had no established meaning.

In an interesting coincidence, Further Confusion organizers Anthropomorphic Arts and Education held a competition to find a new logo featuring their "FurCon" service mark just weeks before the initial FurryCon application in May 2013.

Comments

Your rating: None

This may be in one of the links, but, though we're more or less talking about the words, I'm curious as to what the heck that little symbol next to them actually represents?

Your rating: None

Yes, the trademark office wanted a better description of that as well. Originally it was:

The mark consists of an abstract face beside the stylized word "FurryCon".

The examiner called this "broad, vague language", and suggested a one-word change:

The mark consists of an abstract anthropomorphic face beside the stylized word "FurryCon". [my emphasis]

This was submitted verbatim along with the disclaimer. Presumably, the use of a different abstract anthropomorphic face next to the words "FurryCon" might violate the mark, though IANAL. They spent more time saying that "FurryCon" by itself couldn't be claimed.

Your rating: None

Looks more like a variation on the cartoon TMNT's 2003 Foot clan symbol, to me. I guess I'm just thinking "it's furry; that's supposed to be a paw, right?" Looking at it now, I'm thinking ... no, that's a foot, dude.

Also, IANAL is the worst abbreviation ever.

Your rating: None

I don't know, I'd say it's a pretty descriptive abbreviation!

I can see it being a face with ears or horns, but it could as easily be a paw. Or an upside-down space-ship.

Your rating: None

Or a shield, like medieval knight style!

Maybe I could see a dragon head? Maybe?

Your rating: None

The shield would make sense, given their "Game of Con Chairs" theme.

Your rating: None

I took "Game of Con Chairs" bit to be an annual theme, not a permanent one.

The USPTO doesn't exactly have the best reputation in some circles - many believe it grants overly broad and too-obvious patents on such things as software and business models. But it looks like in this case the examiner exercised some diligence to insure that "FurryCon" was specified narrowly enough that anyone anywhere who spoke of a "furry con" wouldn't be infringing the service mark (at least I hope I read that part correctly). There are already too many ridiculous cases of that going around, such as the one reported on here a year and a half or so ago regarding the term space marine. I'd really hate to see a convention leader turn out to be a trademark bully.

Your rating: None

You'd think that, but it's going into a second season, and there's three more clans to eliminate.

Your rating: None

Now I'm seeing a tulip. Try to unsee it.

Your rating: None

It looks like the USPTO official was trying to be as helpful as he or she could be. I agree that the mark/symbol is so abstract as to be meaningless.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

Looks like an anti-virus company logo.

Your rating: None

An U.S. Air force's Stealth Drone from the top. Small radar signature ailerons/stabilizers, low heat exhausts (slanted). Experimental craft colors (black/white). A more compact version of the U.S. Navy's Northrop Grumman X-47B.

Your rating: None

Someone actually wanted to trademark "Furry Con" ....

I have issues with this actually

1. Holding a trademark on such a term as originally submitted would have placed the holder in a rather unique position as it is a very common term. In the wrong hands this could have been devastating.

2. Having a furry con named "Furry Con" is rather disappointing. Brilliant as the possibilities may be in the right hands, I see corporate sponsorship (and rules) in its future. ... Sponsored by Carls Jr.

Might be me, but I remain pensive about the intent of the filing group for now.

Your rating: None

What would be the best brands for furry sponsorship? I mean, we've had Monster drinks at FWA… could Groomer's Edge Re-Fur-Bish pet conditioner sponsor the fursuit games at Anthrocon? Or perhaps FaceRig could give away some copies in the charity auction - they already advertised on FA. Maybe Folkmanis drives a puppeteering comeback with coupons on the FPS, or at Eurofurence's pawpet show? With our demographics, Furries have to be a target market for someone.

While FurryCon is technically run by a sole proprietorship, I'm not sure there's a profit motive.

Your rating: None

This is a good question actually. I wonder what people would think would be ideal sponsors :)

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a software developer and Kai Norn from London, UK, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.