West Palm Beach 'fuku' restaurant denied trademark because of 'immoral' name

Owners say the name has wholesome meaning

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A West Palm Beach restaurant set to open in just a few weeks is already gaining a lot of attention all because of its name.

It's called fuku.

The owners say it's a Japanese word with a wholesome meaning.
    
But as people passed the restaurant on Clematis Street, some did a double take.

"Everybody that I know who sees the name assumes it's f-you," said J.C. Reyz.
    
Fuku really means good fortune, wealth and prosperity.

Owner Paul Ardaji said he came up with the name while on a trip to Memphis with his business partner.

"We were walking down the street and I said fuku he looked at me strange but he got where I was going," said Ardaji.

With that, they named their business and sent a letter to the state to trademark the name. But they were soon turned down.  

"I believe they're culturally unaware of what the word means," their attorney James D'Loughy said. "I think there is some puritanical viewpoint based on the letter we received."

In a letter to the owners' attorney, the Florida Department of State Divisions of Corporations denied the trademark request because, "The mark consists of, compromises or includes immoral, deceptive or scandalous matter."

"The state looks at things from a very narrow scope. I think they'll realize it's not our intention to be scandalous or deceptive," said Ardaji.

People walking by the sign say while the name is controversial, it is promotable.

"They probably just want to get shock value," said Reyz.
    
D'Loughy said if the restaurant opens without the trademark, it's vulnerable to the name being used by other businesses.

"They would have to challenge that and that could cost the business a lot of money."

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