SCOTUS to consider offensive trade mark registration appeal
Erik Brunetti, owner of clothing label FUCT, has been in Court this week to put forward arguments in support of why his brand name should be afforded trade mark protection.
In 1990, Brunetti and professional skateboarder, Natas Kaupas, founded clothing brand FUCT, a streetwear apparel brand known for the incorporation of anti-government campaigns in to their designs. The name of the brand, which is pronounced the same as the well-known expletive, has struggled to obtain trade mark protection in the US as a result of a federal law which prevents “immoral” or “offensive” marks from obtaining registration.
Brunetti and his lawyers put forward arguments in the Supreme Court on Monday asserting that the trade mark should be offered protection. Throughout proceedings Brunetti has argued that the refusal of a trade mark for his brand name would be an infringement of his first amendment right: i.e to freedom of speech.
In research conducted by Brunetti’s legal team, it came to light that the US government had rejected almost 2000 trade mark applications in the 12-year period between 2003 and 2015 because they were considered immoral. Brunetti’s legal team have argued that the decision-making process of the government is often inconsistent.
In 2017, the Asian American rock band, the Slants, were permitted their eponymous trade mark after the Supreme court ruled in their favor. The Slants had previously been denied their mark on the grounds of the word being a derogatory term that was both offensive and immoral in its description of Asian people.
We will have to wait some time for the ruling on this case, but it will be interesting to see how the matter plays out.