The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

Ukrainian Soldier Seeks Trademark for "Russian Warship Go F**k Yourself"


From World Trademark Review (Tim Lince):

WTR can reveal that a Ukrainian border guard who refused to surrender to a Russian warship has filed an EU trademark application for the phrase that went viral during their stand-off. It comes as reports emerge of major brands being targeted with rogue trademark filings in Russia, while opportunists around the world file for terms related to the military conflict.

At the end of last month, a Russian naval vessel requested that 13 Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island surrender. Instead of giving themselves up, the 13 soldiers went viral for telling the Russian warship to "go f*ck yourself". Initial reports (later contradicted) suggested that the soldiers were killed after the Russian warship shelled the island in response. The actions of the men received global coverage and plaudits, and this week the Ukrainian government even announced a postage stamp representing the phrase.

WTR has learned that the soldier who uttered the 'f*ck yourself' phrase – with permission obtained from his family and the Ukrainian military – is seeking an EU trademark for the term (in both Cyrillic script and English). It was filed yesterday by Taras Kulbaba, founder and lawyer at Bukovnik & Kulbaba, and covers a variety of goods and services from clothing and bags to entertainment and NFTs.

The European mark appears to have the vulgarities expurgated; I can't speak to whether, as a matter of European trademark law, that would also cover the unexpurgated version of the phrase. (Note that the original phrase is actually "go on the dick," but "go fuck yourself" is a good translation. In Russian vulgarity, and I assume in Ukrainian, "dick" is much more prominent than it is in American English; indeed, it is entitled to a whole separate volume in the Dictionary of Russian Vulgar Slang.)

See also this American trademark application for the phrase (with "fuck" written out), which the story suggests is by a company that's unrelated to the soldiers. (Recall that trademark law, unlike copyright law, isn't focused on who is the author of a particular mark.)