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Cardi B’s Attempt to Trademark ‘Okurrr’ Turned Down by U.S. Patent Office

Cardi B is not going to get a tradmark on her signature catchprase, okurrr? That is the judgement handed down by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May after the rapper applied for a trademark on the R-rolling "Okurrr" back in March. Filed on March 12 of this year, the application by Washpoppin, Inc. -- Cardi's New York-based cosmetics company -- was to cover "clothing, namely, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hooded sweatshirts, pants, shorts, jackets, footwear, headgear, namely hats and caps, blouses, bodysuits, dresses, jumpsuits, leggings, shirts, sweaters, undergarments" using both 3 R and 2 R versions of the phrase, according to the trademark/service mark application.

In a document sent to Cardi's team on May 7 refusing the application, the USPTO wrote: "Registration is refused because the applied-for mark is a slogan or term that does not function as a trademark or service mark to indicate the source of applicant’s goods and/or services and to identify and distinguish them from others... In this case, the applied-for mark is a commonplace term, message, or expression widely used by a variety of sources that merely conveys an ordinary, familiar, well-recognized concept or sentiment," citing several precendents, including one in which Volvo attempted to trademark the widely used phrase "drive safely" and Remington tried the same for electric razors with "proudly made in the USA."

Citing dozens of companies already using the phase on T-shirts and other products, as well as Urban Dictionary.com and Dictionary.com definitions, widely available videos and its frequent use by the Kardashian family among others, the rejection added that, "This term or expression is commonly used in the drag community and by celebrities as an alternate way of saying 'OK' or 'something that is said to affirm when someone is being put in their place'... Because consumers are accustomed to seeing this term or expression commonly used in everyday speech by many different sources, they would not perceive it as a mark identifying the source of applicant’s goods and/or services but rather as only conveying an informational message."

In the original application, Cardi's team wrote: "To the best of the signatory’s knowledge and belief, no other persons, except, if applicable, concurrent users, have the right to use the mark in commerce, either in the identical form or in such near resemblance as to be likely, when used on or in connection with the goods/services of such other persons, to cause confusion or mistake, or to deceive."

While an amended application wouldn't help Cardi's case, the USPTO noted that "applicant may respond to the refusal(s) by submitting evidence and arguments in support of registration." The lawyer representing Cardi in the trademark application could not be reached by Billboard at press time and a spokesperson for the rapper had not returned requests for comment. The refusal also noted that some of the merchadise classes, such as "headgear, namely, hard hats," were "too broad" to meet the office's criteria. A spokesperson for the USPTO tells Billboard that the office is not permitted to comment on applications.

The rejection -- which notes that two similar applications were filed earlier by different companies for similar trademarks and phrases using variations of "Okurrr" (including "worry about your own kid Okurrrrt") -- gives Cardi's team six months (from May 7, 2019) to respond to the rejection to avoid an abandonment of her application. As noted by People, while Cardi has frequently used the phrase in public and made it her signature during appearances on The Tonight Show and in her Super Bowl LIII Pepsi ad, it is believed that season 6 RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Laganja Estranja is the first one to use it in public, previously calling out Kim Kardashian for the reality star's attempt to lay claim to it.


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