Can you trademark a town name — even if it connotes to profanity?

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By KYW Newsradio 1060
By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A new pho restaurant decided to open up shop in the town of Keene, New Hampshire.

They landed on the name Pho Keene — "pho," a Vietnamese soup pronounced "fuh," and "Keene," the town it is based in.

But the city objected because when you say it fast, it sounds like a profanity you definitely cannot say on the radio. 

The restaurant countered the objection as discriminatory, but does any company have a right to name itself with the name of the town in which it does business? 

The answer is yes, you may use or even trademark a city name if it is used as a brand name for your products or services.  It doesn't mean that you own the city name — or the city, for that matter — but it will prevent other companies from using the city's name in association with a product or service that's like yours. 

The restaurant that wants to sell pho, however, will probably lose because of the pro-pho-nity problem.