Katy Perry’s “Left Shark” Design Fails to Overcome Trademark Hurdles

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The U.S. Trademark Office blocked Katy Perry’s attempt to capitalize on a “Left Shark” design.  According to David Collier, the trademark examiner, to be able to register a trademark, a mark or design must “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.”  Based on evidence submitted by Perry, the Office found that the shark design failed to sufficiently conjure up Katy Perry or her music performance.  Collier also noted that the submitted design did not match the actual Left Shark and that general terms like “costumes” or “figurines” used in the application require more specification.

Her attempt to register was sparked when a designer named Fernando Sosa made 3D-printed figures modeled after the “Left Shark” meme to sell on shapeways.com for $24.99.  Before Perry filed her trademark application, Perry’s lawyers sent a cease and desist letter warning that Sosa was infringing Perry’s intellectual property.

“Left Shark” became viral when it appeared in Perry’s halftime performance during this year’s Super Bowl.  Perry had two dancers dressed as sharks, one of which caught viewers’ attention with his funny off-beat moves.

Despite the rejection, Perry can reapply with a revised application.

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