The world is currently seeing the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and there has been one catchphrase which has seemingly captured the fighting ethos of the Ukrainian people: “Russian warship, go fuck yourself.” With that said, it was only a matter of time before this common phrase would wind its way as a trademark application with the USPTO. The proposed application for RUSSIAN WARSHIP, GO FUCK YOURSELF was filed with the USPTO on February 26, 2022, only two days after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in a so-called “special military operation.” The application was filed as an intent-to-use, in International Class 25, for clothing.
Never mind the cringe-worthy nature of even applying for a trademark by profiting off of wartime suffering, there is one major legal issue with trying to get this mark registered. Namely, the application will most likely receive a failure to function refusal because the phrase “Russian warship, go fuck yourself” is a widely used message that is merely informational in nature, and lacks any secondary meaning as to indicate source (see TMEP 1202.04(b)). The phrase has already gone viral as a battle cry for the Ukrainians, who are heavily outnumbered and outgunned as they fight back the invading Russians. Because the consumer market have already heard of the phrase and already made a connection with the Ukrainian people in their fight against the Russians will make the phrase as understood to be conveying that message, rather than as a source identifier. As such, the application will probably be refused registration.
For more information on trademark registration, and the failure to function refusal, please contact Yonaxis I.P. Law Group.