The case of FCUK v FCUK sent to High Court

Trial ordered for 'offensive' FCUK trademark

A High Court judge who declined to give a ruling in a trademark dispute over the use of the title FCUK said he found the French Connection advertising campaign "obnoxious and tasteless".

A High Court judge who declined to give a ruling in a trademark dispute over the use of the title FCUK said he found the French Connection advertising campaign "obnoxious and tasteless".

Mr Justice Rattee told the court yesterday that FCUK was "just a euphemism" for an for an obscene expletive.

Lawyers representing the fashion chain French Connection had asked the judge to stop an Internet consultant using the website name, fcuk.com.

They claimed the defendant was exploiting the "goodwill" generated by its successful FCUK advertising campaign around the initials it uses as its trademark.

Mr Justice Rattee asked: "How can you talk about goodwill in connection with such a tasteless and obnoxious campaign? It may be you have been hoist by your own petard in using such an extraordinary advertising slogan."

Miss Mary Vitoria, representing French Connection, replied: "Your lordship may find it offensive. I might find it offensive. But young people who buy clothes do not find it offensive, they find it amusing."

But the judge refused to give an immediate ruling in French Connection's favour. He said: "I find the case of both parties unpalatable in the extreme, having regard to the subject matter, but that is not something on which I can make a ruling."

The fashion chain had wanted an immediate injunction to bar the fcuk.com website, but the judge ordered a full trial of the issues.

The judge said that during the trial, the High Court might be able to review the registration of the trademark FCUK, and whether the registrar ought to have refused it on the grounds that it was contrary to public policy because of its obscene connotations.

The FCUK advertising campaign had been running a year before the website's domain name was registered, but French Connection did not register the FCUK trademark until some days later.

Miss Vitoria said the site had been accessed 21,000 times and was now being visited 70 times a day by people who could think it was connected with French Connection.

French Connection Ltd, which registered the trademark in April 1997, took out the action against Tony Sutton, 31, from south London. Mr Sutton, who advises on e-mail sites for companies, trades under the name First Consultant UK.

Mr Jonathan Turner, representing Mr Sutton, said the initials FCUK were widely used in Internet circles as an alternative to an offensive expletive, as a way of avoiding filters and controls on websites.

He said his client had realised the value of "fcuk" as a domain name to attract attention to his business. "It has value because it is an offensive name and was a clever way of attracting the attention of IT managers who are well-known to seek out pornographic websites on the Internet," he said.

Mr Justice Rattee asked: "It has value because it is an offensive name?"

Mr Turner replied: "It was seen as clever by the claimant, why should it not be seen as clever by the defendant?"

Earlier this year Mr Justice Rattee blocked an attempt to auction Jonathan Aitken's private letters.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high