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U.S. Supreme Court allows foul language trademarks in F-word case

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a long-standing U.S. ban on trademarks on "immoral" or "scandalous" words and symbols, ruling in a case involving a clothing brand with an indelicate name that the law violates constitutional free speech rights. The justices ruled against President Donald Trump's administration, which defended the law that had been in place since 1905, and in favor of Los Angeles streetwear designer Erik Brunetti, who was turned down by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when he sought to trademark his brand name FUCT. All nine justices agreed in the decision written by liberal Justice Elena Kagan that the prohibition on "immoral" trademarks ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment right to free expression. However, three justices wrote dissents to say the bar on "scandalous" trademarks should have been upheld. The Supreme Court followed a course it took in 2017 when it struck down a similar law forbidding the registration of "disparaging" trademarks in a case involving an Asian-American dance rock band called The Slants, a name federal trademark officials had deemed offensive to Asians.

The Supreme Court Divides Into Prudes and Cool Kids as the Justices Debate Naughty Trademarks


Erik Brunetti wants to be scandalous. A fashion designer and provocateur, Brunetti helped pioneer streetwear in the 1990s, selling clothes with profane and subversive messages through his brand Fuct. Brunetti has tried to register Fuct as a trademark, but the government won't let him, because federal law prohibits the registration of "scandalous" trademarks. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cited Urban Dictionary to prove that Fuct is the "past tense of the verb fuck" and therefore a "scandalous" vulgarity under the law. Now Brunetti is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down this statute, clearing the way for him to register his trademark at last.

Yet again, the Supreme Court should protect 'offensive' trademarks

Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court on Monday considered whether a line of clothing whose name sounds a lot like a four-letter vulgarity beginning with the letter F can be denied federal trademark registration because it's "scandalous" or "immoral." If the justices value the 1st Amendment they will rule -- as they did in a related case two years ago -- that government officials may not refuse to register a trademark simply because many people might find it offensive. In the 1990s, a Los Angeles entrepreneur and artist named Erik Brunetti founded a clothing brand called FUCT. But when he tried to register that name for federal trademark protection, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied his petition. It cited language in a federal law known as the Lanham Act directing the agency not to register trademarks containing "immoral" or "scandalous" material.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear case on vulgar trademarks

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case brought by a clothing line named Fuct, which the government has refused to register, claiming it would promote vulgarity. The case pits a provision of U.S. trademark law that allows the government to deny requests on the basis "immoral" or "scandalous" words against the bedrock principles of free speech enshrined in the Constitution. A date of hearing has not yet been fixed. But it is a safe bet no case before it will have exposed the nation's top judges to so many profanities. The street wear brand was founded in 1990 by Los Angeles-based designer Erik Brunetti.

Supreme Court strikes down ban on scandalous trademarks, in dispute over 'FUCT' clothing line

FOX News

High court set to issue decisions on gerrymandering and census citizenship questions; Shannon Bream reports from the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court on Monday struck down part of a federal law blocking trademarks for names or logos bearing "immoral" or "scandalous" images -- including profanity and sexual imagery. The justices said in a unanimous ruling that the law violated the constitutional rights of designer Erik Brunetti. Registration for his clothing brand "FUCT" (pronounced as the individual letters F-U-C-T) had been denied by a federal tribunal. "The statute, on its face, distinguishes between two opposed sets of ideas: those aligned with conventional moral standards and those hostile to them; those inducing societal nods of approval and those provoking offense and condemnation," Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the court's opinion.