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Archived updates for Thursday, October 11, 2007

TGIF for the YAK SAK (Brand Barf Bag)

Unused Airsickness Bags of Thai Airways and Lufthansa, courtesy of Matthias Sebulke

Thanks to the TTABlog for yakking about In re Madson Products, LLC, Serial No. 78565462 (September 13, 2007) [not precedential] where "a gutsy double entendre argument saved the day for Applicant Madson Products, LLC, bringing a reversal of the USPTO's Section 2(e)(1) mere descriptiveness refusal of the mark YAK SAK for 'fluid-tight paper or plastic utility bags used for motion sickness and disposal of unpleasant matter.'"

According to the decision by Administrative Trademark Judge Walters:

We agree with the examining attorney that, when considered in connection with the identified goods, YAK SAK, merely describes a sack or bag that is used to hold vomit,which is certainly an unpleasant material. The examining attorney has clearly established that one meaning of “yack” is “vomit,” and “yak” will be perceived as a mere misspelling of “yack.” We are not persuaded by applicant’s subsequent arguments that, because ‘yack” is a slang term, we should not conclude prospective purchasers will be aware of this meaning of “yack” or attribute that meaning to theterm “yak” in the mark YAK SAK. Applicant conceded that this is one meaning of the term and that this meaning is part of the intended double entendre effect of itschosen mark.

However, we also agree with applicant that its mark is likely to be understood as a double entendre in connection with the identified goods. “Yak” is equally likely to beperceived as indicating the so-named animal. In this case, YAK SAK is likely to be understood as suggesting the toughness of the sack. In this context, the mark is, at most, suggestive of the identified goods and the examining attorney has not contended or established otherwise. A double entendre is “an ambiguity of meaning arising from Serial No. 785654627 language that lends itself to more than one interpretation.” In re The Place Inc., 76 USPQ2d 1467 (TTAB 2005). As in ThePlace, supra, both meanings of the mark in the case before us are readily apparent from the mark itself without reference to other indicia. See also In re Grand Metropolitan Foodservice, Inc., 30 USPQ2d 1974 (TTAB 1994).

We do not find that the double entendre extends to other slang meanings of the term “yak,” as those terms are not relevant in the context of the identified goods, despite applicant’s contentions to the contrary.

In conclusion, the mark YAK SAK is a double entendre when considered in connection with “fluid-tight paper or plastic utility bags used for motion sickness and disposal of unpleasant matter,” and only one of the two likely meanings, discussed supra, of the mark YAK SAK is merely descriptive in connection with applicant’s goods. Thus, the examining attorney has not established that the mark as a whole is merely descriptive in connection with the identified goods.

Decision: The refusal under Section 2(e)(1) of the Act is reversed.

Amongst the collectors of aeronautical memorabilia, there is a sub-culture of sickness-bag aficionados, including the Vomitorium - Museum of barf-bags, the Air Sickness Bag museum, Bagland,, and Rune's Barf Bag Collection which now exhibits 1186 different bags from 465 airlines in 131 countries. The Guinness Book Of Records even recognises Dutchman Niek Vermeulen as the world record holder for the number of different bags (5006 as of September 5, 2006).
In 2005 Virgin Atlantic paid tribute to this cultural phenomenon by issuing a limited edition set of 20 bags known as "Design for Chunks."
In the 1997 movie Bean, Rowan Atkinson plays Mr. Bean who sees a young boy vomit into a barf bag, and then blows it up and pops it over a sleeping man's head.

Thank Goodness It's Friday (and time for some yak racing, yak skiing, and yak polo),

--Bill Heinze

Propsective Member,
"IYAK" International Yak Association

p.s. - Do you yak? If so, then this stylish, multi-tasking YAK SAK may be "a fashionable accessory to accentuate and punctuate your personal style."
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