The Internet Meme ‘Florida Man’ is Now the Subject of a Trademark Filing
Popularized in recent years, the term ‘Florida man’ is an internet meme used to refer to news stories — arising out of the state of Florida — in which people do ill-advised or downright bizarre things. As explained by the Miami New Times, the term likely became associated with Florida because of the state’s unusually strong open records laws.
Recently, an actual Florida man filed a trademark application to seek rights to the popular term. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the owner of ‘Floridaman.com’ wants to secure the trademark before someone else can do so. Here, our Miami trademark litigation attorneys explain why it will be difficult for any party to obtain exclusive trademark rights for the term ‘Florida man’.
The Website Owner Wants to Block Others Obtaining Trademark Rights
Ryan Davis — the owner of the website ‘’Floridaman.com” — told reporters from the Tampa Bay Times that he applied for a trademark to protect the term ‘Florida man’ in order to preserve his right to use the term and to block others from gaining full control. Notably, this trademark application comes months before the Florida Man reality television show is set to premiere on the Oxygen network. Mr. Davis, who stated that he is filing this trademark application as a defensive maneuver, pointed to the fact that Oxygen often seeks trademark protection for its shows.
The Term is Ubiquitous; May Be Difficult to Trademark
The term ‘Florida man’ is frequently used in internet-based memes. As it is so ubiquitous, it may be challenging for any party to obtain trademark protection over it. One of the most important things to understand about filing a trademark application is that under federal regulations, individuals and businesses are prevented from obtaining trademarks for generic terms. For example, you cannot trademark the term ‘computer’. It is a generic term commonly used by consumers to refer to a wide range of different products. That term is not a source signifier and it is not associated with any particular brand. In order to be eligible to receive trademark protection, the applicant must prove that their mark is:
- Actively in commercial use; and
- Reasonably distinctive.
If a mark is deemed to fall short of the distinctiveness requirement, then a trademark application will not be approved. As a general matter, terms or symbols that are considered to be either too descriptive or too generic are not eligible for trademark protection. How the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will handle the ‘Florida man’ trademark application remains to be seen.
Speak to Our Miami Trademark Litigation Lawyer Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our South Florida business law attorneys have the skills and legal experience needed to handle all types of trademark law matters. If you are involved in trademark litigation, we are ready to help. To schedule your confidential consultation, please call us today. With locations in Miami and West Palm Beach, we represent individuals and companies throughout Southeast Florida.