The famous ‘Ahegao’ facial expression seems to have a new owner, or at least that’s the claim of one company.
A company in China has trademarked the famous Hentai term and is now using their legal ownership of it to pressure a retailer who creates ‘Ahegao’ related merchandise to cease their production of related products.
It appears to be a blatant attempt to become the sole retailer of items bearing the unique facial expression.
In recent years, the facial expression has seen a massive growth in popularity, with many fans (both ironically and unironically) wearing merchandise bearing collages of ahegao images taken from various mangas or, doujins. Such items include hoodies and t-shirts which proudly displaces the expression front and center.
It became so popular that several anime conventions even banned attendees from wearing the clothing!
For those who don’t know, ‘ahegao’ refers to a popular facial expression of sexual ecstasy seen in various hentai in which a character’s eyes roll back and their tongues hang from their mouths.
While early versions of ahegao clothing featured images sourced, usually without permission, from numerous hentai doujins; English-language hentai publisher Fakku teamed up with Japanese hentai artist Asanagi in 2018 to create ‘official’ ahegao merchandise. These displayed collages were made exclusively from Asanagi’s artwork.
The first official Fakku-produced ahegao clothing debuted back in 2018. It was sold as a limited item at the company’s booth during the annual Anime Expo convention:
Later that same year, Chinese company Shenzhen Guangcai Trading Co., Ltd. submitted an application to trademark the word ahegao. The trademark eventually became registered on April 23rd, 2019:
However, according to a sample photo and drawing of the subject being trademarked that was submitted alongside the application, Shenzhen Guangcai Trading Co., Ltd. made no reference to the sexually-charged hentai expression.
Instead, it presented only two unrelated, plain-text examples of the term to the US Patent and Trademark Office, with no traditional face expressions.
The first features a shirt with a red tow truck on it.
The second is simply a drawing of the word “Ahegao.”
This past week, the company in China made their move.
On July 23rd, Fakku founder Jacob Grady announced that Shenzhen Guangcai Trading Co., Ltd., based on their legal trademark, was attempting “to get Fakku to stop selling the ONLY 100% official merch,” though Grady also noted that the company intends “to fight” against Shenzhen Guangcai Trading Co., Ltd’s efforts:
He also requested that fans halt any purchase of “bootleg items” in a response to the Chinese encroachment on the term and their legal attack.
In a subsequent update Grady wrote, “Updates will be quiet while we prep legal.”
He then went on to summarize the dispute, “Summary: This company trademarked the term ahegao and is preventing ppl from using it. They went after Fakku first and we intend to fight.”
Grady concluded, “Everyone should be free to use the term ahegao on anything. We’ll fight to keep it that way”
What do you think of Shenzhen Guangcai Trading Co., Ltd.’s trademark of the word ‘ahegao’?