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Only in 21st-century America: Warring fartlords head to court

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There's a flatulence flap a-brewin' in Denver's U.S. District Court.

Loveland-based software developer InfoMedia, Inc. -- creator of the Apple iPhone app iFart Mobile -- has asked a judge to rule that it can use the phrase "pull my finger" in its marketing without infringeing on the trademark of another fart-noise app called, you guessed it, Pull My Finger.

The history of the fart-app war is explained in what is possibly the funniest court filing ever.

To summarize: iFart and Pull My Finger, developed by Florida-based Air-O-Matic Inc., are 99-cent iPhone apps that, in lawyer-speak, allow iPhone users "to simulate flatulence noises." In fact, iFart has twenty different noises, including The Butt Socket, Burrito Maximo and The Wipe Out.

To market the iFart, which debuted in December, InfoMedia sent out a press release that included the phrase "pull my finger." It also posted a YouTube video called "iFart Mobile -- Pull My Finger."

In January, Air-O-Matic asked Apple to remove the iFart app because it had violated Air-O-Matic's trademark. But Apple refused, telling the competing fart-makers to work it out between themselves. So in February, Air-O-Matic's lawyer sent a letter to InfoMedia's lawyer detailing how iFart's use of the phrase "pull my finger" had hurt Air-O-Matic and asking for $50,000 to settle the matter.

Joel Comm, owner of InfoMedia, describes what happened next on his blog, JoelComm.com. In Comm's estimation, he had three choices: do nothing, wait for Air-O-Matic to file suit or file suit himself. He chose option three.

So now it's up to a federal court judge to decide whether it's possible to trademark "pull my finger" -- a decision that could have weighty consequences for gaseous old men and adolescent boys the world over. In arguing its case, InfoMedia cites Wikipedia, the interweb's one-stop-shop for 100-percent reliable information on everything from gonorrhea to Thomas Jefferson.

Here is an excerpt from the argument: "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. The prank begins when the prankster senses the deep stirrings of flatulence.

"The prankster then requests that an unsuspecting person pull [his or her] finger. The prankster extends his index finger to the victim. As the victim pulls the prankster's finger, his flatulence erupts so as to suggest a causal relationship between the pulling of the finger and the subsequent expulsion of gas.

"In other words, the phrase 'pull my finger' is understood to be a description of the act of passing gas."

I hope the judge orders a full jury trial. And while you're waiting for that, enjoy this sophisticated video from the ifartmobile.com website.

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