Home / US / Vulgar or protected speech? The Supreme Court examines "FUCT" trademark claims

Vulgar or protected speech? The Supreme Court examines "FUCT" trademark claims



Brunetti says that his company's name stands for friends you can't believe. In 2011, he attempted to register the trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to gain benefits such as extended rights against others who tried to use the same trademark.

But the office did not buy Brunetti's explanation. Instead, it said the word "the phonetic equivalent" of the past time of what sounds like a vulgar term. It refused Brunetti's request to decide that federal law prohibits the registration of trademarks consisting of "scandalous" subject matter.

Now, on Monday for the second time in two years, the Supreme Court will review whether federal law provisions, the Lanham Act, are contrary to the first amendment.

If the judges rule for Brunetti, they can open the doors to more so-called "scandalous" brands on the market and even broaden a category of speech protected by the Constitution.

The Court will examine an opinion of the United States Federal Court of Appeal that a provision of the Lanham Law that prohibits the registration of "immoral" or "scandalous" trademarks is a "constitutional limitation of freedom of expression." The trademark office also inconsistently applied the provision in a way that creates uncertainty. For example, the government has approved trademarks as "FUGLY".

The appeal court said that while it found "such trademarks unpleasant" and was "not eager to see a spread" of them on the market, the first amendment protects private expression, including private expressions that are insulting against a significant composition of the public . "

If the problem sounds familiar, it is because the Supreme Court in 201

7 passed a separate statutory provision which prohibited the registration of trademarks that could harm people, institutions, beliefs or national symbols.

The judges argued that the so-called" disparagement commission "violates the first amendment by discriminating based on a particular point of view. The view was a victory for an Asian-American musician who named his rock band" The Slants "in an attempt to take back a term that was once targeted as an insult. His trademark inquiry was denied as a deviation for "people of Asian descent", but the Supreme Court finally decided in his favor.

In the latter case, lawyers for Brunetti say that the Supreme Court would also strike the "scandalous" provision. that the government's enforcement of the provision has been arbitrary, which ten lets some brands, but inexplicably deny others who are closely related.

In the court industry, the law firm Noel Francisco argued for the law that, unlike "disparagement" provision, "scandalous trademarks" the provision of the new case is "neutral point of view" and does not violate the constitution.

He stressed that the provision is not a limitation of speech because Brunetti could still use it on his clothesline and in advertising, he simply could not access government benefits that come with registration.


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