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.
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.
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.
Los Angeles artist Erik Brunetti, the founder of the streetwear clothing company "FUCT," poses for a photo in Los Angeles ON Thursday. A California man whose company carries a provocative name is hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule against a trademark law that he says restricts his First Amendment rights. A lawyer for Erik Brunetti, owner of the "FUCT" clothing brand, will appear before the Supreme Court on Monday to challenge a federal trademarking law that allows officials to refuse trademarks that they deem "scandalous" or "immoral." Brunetti called the provision an unconstitutional restriction of speech that should be struck down. He also said that the underlying process is arbitrary, and that trademarks more offensive than his could be approved depending on who handles the case.
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.