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Rated ® for Trademarks

Movie ratings, like R for Restricted, are trademarked and you cannot use them without the MPAA’s permission!*

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) determines the ratings of US films. They are very protective of their rating system and have sued multiple parties who try to copy the rating system.

Recently, the MPAA opposed Money League Acquisitions’ trademark application for “Rated F For Funny.” In January 2019, the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (TTAB) found in favor of the MPRAA (TTAB Opposition No. 91240448). 

U.S. Serial No. 87786543

In 2007, the MPAA won a case against Respect Sportswear, Inc. as the TTAB found application for “Rated R Sportswear” to likely cause confusion with MPAA’s famous mark “Rated R” (TTAB Oppostion No. 91153141).

As attorney John Welch notes, the TTAB’s decision in Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. v. Respect Sportswear, Inc., skipped over the argued claims. The Board decided solely only on the likelihood of confusion factor. If Respect Sportswear had appealed the decision, they may have won or at least expanded case law on dilution claims. Other famous marks that often bring dilution claims, such as Nike and Coca-Cola, make different types of products other than the one that made them famous. However, the MPAA does not use their rating system on anything other than movies. The MPAA doesn’t even sell novelty t-shirts! Therefore, it would be interesting to press the courts on whether the MPAA can really claim such “fame” when their only product is colored screens in front of movies.

If you want to learn more about the MPAA’s rating system, I highly suggest This Film Is Not Yet Rated. The documentary discusses whether the MPAA’s rating system is sexist. Spoiler: male and female nudity is not weighted equally.

*Of course, many people use the MPAA rating systems in parodies. See the Sesame Street / Joker movie parody from Saturday Night Live, brought to you by the “letter R.”


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