Katy Perry’s Attempt To Claim A Trademark On “Left Shark” Design Fails Like A Left Shark

leftsharkThe “Left Shark” phenomenon that overtook the world after Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime show has long since exited the cultural dialog, and yet the battle rages on over whether or not the pop star can claim a trademark on the uncoordinated, anthropomorphic fish.

For those who have already forgotten about Left Shark, or who slept through its 12 minutes of fame, during Perry’s halftime show she was briefly flanked by a pair of dancers in shark costumes. The one to her right (audience left) was not exactly in sync with the choreography and the Internet rejoiced in the lack of coordination before moving on to something else very soon thereafter.

Some people attempted to cash in on the fleeting Left Shark feeding frenzy, like the designer who created a 3D-printable model of the infamous finned beast, only to have Perry’s lawyers come after him over claims of copyright and intellectual property violations.

The singer’s company tried to trademark the shark design along with phrases like “Left Shark,” “Right Shark,” “Drunk Shark,” and “Basking Shark.”

But The Hollywood Reporter notes that the examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the registration request, saying the design “identifies only a particular character; it does not function as a service mark to identify and distinguish applicant’s services from those of others and to indicate the source of applicant’s services.”

Also at issue is the fact that the design submitted by Perry’s people differs from the Left Shark shown during the Super Bowl.

The examiner points to a photo from the event submitted to bolster the application and points out that in the photo, “The shark has five gills, a full mouth with teeth and round eyes with eyelids,” while the design submitted”displays the mark as a stylized depiction of an upright shark in full front profile with no dorsal fin, two full pectoral fins and two legs and feet; the shark has three gills and the shark’s mouth appears without teeth; the shark also has oval eyes without eyelids.”

As for registering the actual “Left Shark” phrase, the examiner had questions. Specifically, he wanted to know what exactly this phrase would be used to describe, since you can’t just trademark two commonly used words and say that no one can use them in any way without your approval.

THR says the application refers to using the trademark on “costumes,” but the examiner wants to know if that means Halloween costumes or costumes for dancers. Likewise, does “figurines” mean “modeled plastic toy figurines”?

None of this resolves the issue of copyright. Some lawyers contend you can’t copyright a costume. Perry’s lawyers argue that the drawings of the sharks are copyrightable, but a lawyer for the 3D modeler accused of violating Perry’s copyright claims that the copyright on those drawings has nothing to do with a 3D model of a costume.

Sadly, this is probably not the last time we’ll be hearing about this stupid, stupid, stupid shark.

[via AV club]

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