It's a real stinky situation.
Air-o-Matic, of Jacksonville, Fla., makes a popular iPhone flatulence-simulating application called "Pull My Finger."
Infomedia, of Loveland, Colo., makes another popular iPhone flatulence-simulating application called "iFart" — but uses the phrase "pull my finger" in its marketing campaign.
In January, Air-o-Matic asked Apple to yank iFart from the App Store, citing unfair practices and trademark infringement, but was denied on the ground that Apple "believe(s) such disputes are best resolved among the parties themselves."
Air-o-Matic has since asked for $50,000 to settle the matter and indicated it plans to sue Infomedia for trademark infringement.
On Friday, Feb. 13, Infomedia made a pre-emptive strike — it asked a federal court in Denver for a declaratory judgment that "pull my finger" is such a common phrase that it can't be trademarked.
"The phrase 'pull my finger,' and derivations thereof, are generally known and widely understood in American society to be a joke or prank regarding flatulence," reads Infomedia's filing, available for viewing here. "The prank begins when the prankster senses the deep stirrings of flatulence."
Air-o-Matic responded not with a legal filing but with a sort of blog posting, accusing Infomedia principal Joel Comm, a somewhat well-known self-help author and Internet entrepreneur, of "is using dirty tactics to bury his competition."
Comm writes in his own blog posting that "I was willing to negotiate with them, but I will not be harrassed [sic] into paying them money just because our application was more popular and sold more units than theirs."
It's up to the judge to decide who's in the right here. There are between 75 and 100 other flatulence simulators in the App Store, so it's not clear if the outcome would make much difference.
But with luck, the case will go all the way to the Supreme Court, just so we can hear the nine highest jurists in the land read aloud passages such as this one from Friday's filing:
"iFart also features a 'Sneak Attack' function using a timer that emits the sound of flatulence when it goes off. iFart Mobile simulates 20 different sounds of passing gas, from short toots (the 'Butt Socket'), to longer drawn out farts (the 'Wipe Out'), to every conceivable way of breaking wind in-between."