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Trademark Applications Get Nasty as the Election Approaches

As The Fashion Law blog reported this week, some of Trump’s controversial comments have moved off of TV screens and Twitter feeds and into the USPTO. After the third and final presidential debate, a handful of entrepreneurial individuals filed potentially hastily prepared trademark applications, including for the phrase “nasty woman.”

The Fashion Law detailed a selection of these applications that are seeking to protect the phrase for use in connection with t-shirts and other apparel. Interestingly in this realm, Nasty Gal is one of the companies who has released a t-shirt with the phrase, but their company name may make it impossible for the other applicants to obtain protection altogether. You can read more about that dispute in their post here.

There are also some trademark applications seeking protection for the “nasty woman” phrase in connection with items other than t-shirts. Applicants have filed for use in connection with coffee mugs, scented body spray, and online retail services featuring t-shirts and the like.

Two applicants took a more pointed approach to their filings, honing in on the election cycle. One application has been filed for Nasty Women Vote and another for Nasty Women 2016. All of these marks, from the fashionable to the more election focused were filed between October 20th and 31st, with the first use in commerce date starting on October 19th.

Perhaps the most interesting element of these applications is the specimens provided for the use-based ones. As Ed Timberlake highlighted on Twitter, the applicants provided some, well, interesting examples of bona fide use in commerce. The specimen for “Nasty Women Vote” is perhaps the most benign, with a picture of a tag, tied to a hair tie, lying on top of a t-shirt. Two of the nasty woman marks claimed use in connection with coffee mugs and a variety of bags. Both of these specimens are photographs of the specified items with the phrase scribbled in marker on the item.

But two specimens really take the cake. The first is the specimen intended to show the use of nasty woman in connection with spiral bound notebooks. The specimen is a notebook, notably not spiral bound, with the phrase written on the cardboard backing in marker, also helpfully labeled “notebook.” Finally, one of the applications for use of the phrase in connection with t-shirts (or more exactly “t-shirts with the logo on it..”) neglected to include a t-shirt in the specimen at all. Rather, the application contains a picture of an unidentified object that resembles a metal hook or snake.

As the election approaches, this is likely the last flurry of presidential trademark applications that will be filed for some time. Between the quality and quantity of applications including the phrase “nasty woman,” the trademark dispute will likely continue after the election has been decided.