The Supreme Court Is Deciding Whether Brands Can Trademark ‘Scandalous’ Names

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a free-speech and trademark case that will decide whether apparel brands can trademark “profane” names.

The case is being brought before the court by Erik Brunetti, founder of the Los Angeles based streetwear label FUCT. According to Reuters, Brunetti been trying to trademark his brand since 2011, but was denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office based on a “provision of U.S. trademark law that lets the trademark office deny requests… on ‘immoral’ and ‘scandalous’ words and symbols.”

He appealed the decision and, in 2017, “a Washington-based federal appeals court ruled in his favor.” But then the Trump administration, aka the ‘Grab Her By The Pussy Gang,’ “appealed that ruling to the conservative-majority Supreme Court.”

“The main concern,” the administration said, “is all the expletives and sexually graphic imagery that would flow into the marketplace if the law were to be struck down.” No comment was made on if or how the eventual ruling will effect those ‘Trump That Bitch’ bumper stickers and t-shirts.

Brunetti, thinks the administration’s concerns are overblown and “hypothetical.” “There are always going to be people who are offended, but you can’t control how everybody thinks,” he told Reuters.

While the court has ruled (on a completely separate case) that “speech may not be banned even if it expresses ideas that offend,” the Solicitor General said that this particular appeal addresses a completely different set of concerns and instead “advances the government’s interest in encouraging the use of marks that are appropriate for all audiences, including children.”

“The federal government,” the SG added, “should not be forced through the trademark system to actively promote words and images the public would find shocking or profane.”

Decorum is FUCT.

You can read more about it at Reuters.

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