Eating my words

I do it sometimes. In my case, they’re particularly tasty, and sometimes even tasteful.

Definitely not tasteful, not tasty — not even edible, if “kosher” means anything (which judges refuse to admit it does).

And why do I have to eat my words? The case involves the unauthorized use of the Kof-K* kosher symbol (a certification mark) by a dirty-movie maker. He put the mark on the cover of his ethnically-oriented dirty movie. “Perhaps a tad sacrilegious, thought Mr. Cohen [oy — ed.], the owner of [the dirty-movie company], but nothing an observant Jew would confuse with permission from a rabbi to view pornographic material,” says the Times. Sounds like pretty good trademark infringement reasoning: No LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION, no infringement!

Rack one up for trademark dilution, at least where the argument comes from tarnishment — one of the two kinds of dilution, the other being blurring. I think that’s a pretty good use of trademark law. So what do you say I paint this corner here ju-u-u-st so… I’m now only against trademark dilution based on blurring. Dilution based on tarnishment — which is rarely used, in my experience, in simple trademark abuse by Big IP — is OK.

*CORRECTED AND DIGESTED: Every kosher konsumer I know calls this symbol the khof-K, not the Kof-K, because a khof (the kh is pronounced like the ch in “loch,” the Scottish word for “lake” — what can I tell you, it’s not an English sound! But loch is kind of an English word, whereas our Chanuka — pronounced khanuka — in English, just becomes Hanukkah!) is what a kof is born as until you put a dot in it. By the Kof-K’s lights a miniature “K” is a dot, when you use it like dot. Trademark implications of this factoid? Probably none.

6 comments

  • Really like the site. I am a barrister over in England and have added a link on The Barrister Blog at http://timkevan.blogspot.com. There is quite a legal blogging community over here as you will see from my blog roll. Reciprocal link always appreciated, though no worries if not.

    Keep in touch. Best wishes, Tim Kevan

  • Tim, thank you. My policy is when a legitimate blog adds me to its blogroll, I reciprocate — the heart of the blogrolling concept and, of course, the very height of professional courtesy!

  • It’s a “kof” WITH the dot, “khof” without the dot. See, e.g., http://www.jewfaq.org/alephbet.htm

    Also, they use that particular letter for a reason: it’s the first letter in the Hebrew word for “kosher” (actually pronounced more like “ka-SHARE” in Hebrew). So it’s definitely a “kof.”

    Who are these kosher konsumer friends of yours? Did they go to Hebrew school?

    On another note, I was unable to find any registrations at USPTO.gov for kof-k. Is it perhaps unregistered? Or do I just not know how to search properly? (Hebrew school for you, Trademarks class for me).

  • Actually you have it backwards — as a bilingually-raised Jew I can tell you with some authority that “kaf” has the dot, and “khaf” (not “khof”) lacks the dot. The absence of the dot always indicates a soft sound (a fricative, in linguistic terms), while the presence of the dot indicates a hard consonant, both at the same “place” of articulation on your mouth. Pairings include:

    kaf (dot); khaf (no dot) — both velar consonants
    pe (dot); fe (no dot) — both labial consonants
    bet (dot); vet (no dot) — both alveolar consonants

    Also, I would write “kaf”/”khaf”, not “kof”/”khof”, to distinguish the letter in question from “qoph,” which is another letter entirely but is pronounced the same as “kaf” in modern Hebrew.

    Perhaps they call it the “khaf-k” instead o the “kaf-k” because the symbol is a dotless khaf plus a small k, not a dotted kaf plus an additional small k. Anyhow, I see how the nomenclature could go either way.

    All that said, interesting post!

  • I also grew up with aleph-bais and I simply had too many osios in the air when I wrote that — perhaps complicated by the fact that I’m in Israel right now and I’m pretty flummoxed by the experience in general! It’s been corrected.  The first letter of “kosher” is a “kof” (as they spell it) but as you know that’s a fairly fluid concept once a letter is allowed to flow free.  We might well ask again of the Holy Tongue, “Who is like you?” if you catch my drift.

    There may not be a Kof-K registration, though I’ll look, too. If there isn’t, they are not entitled to federal dilution protection, but in many states they are protected.

  • Anonymous Jew,

    Are you a Speech Pathologist? I had to smile when I read your post; it was a good refresher! 🙂