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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future