June 24th, 2019

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on “Immoral” and “Scandalous” Trademarks

This morning, the Supreme Court ruled on the Iancu v. Brunetti case stemming from clothing line FUCT’s unsuccessful efforts to obtain a trademark. The Supreme Court ruled that “the Lanham Act’s prohibition on registration of “immoral or scandalous” trademarks violates the First Amendment.” This follows the 2017 Supreme Court decision in Matal v. Tam in which the Court held in favor of Simon Tam, lead singer of the rock group “The Slants,” who chose his band’s moniker to “’reclaim’ the term and drain its denigrating force as a derogatory term for Asian persons.” The Supreme Court in that case affirmed the ruling of the en banc Federal Circuit that “the disparagement clause [was] facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.” To the delight of some and the dismay of others, today’s revolutionary decision paves the way for FUCT and potentially other traditionally taboo monikers to apply for federal trademarks.