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IP Alert
IP Alert: Supreme Court to Hear Case on "Immoral" or "Scandalous" Trademarks

January 8, 2019

On January 4, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in Iancu v. Brunetti, agreeing to consider whether it is unconstitutional for the federal government to refuse trademark registration for a mark deemed “immoral” or “scandalous.”

The case involves an earlier decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny trademark registration to Erik Brunetti for a vulgar term he had chosen to name his clothing line. Brunetti appealed, and in December 2017 the Federal Circuit held that the “scandalous” aspect of section 2(a) of the Lanham Act was unconstitutional under the Supreme Court’s June 2017 decision in Matal v. Tam. The USPTO subsequently petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case.

The question presented to the Court for consideration is as follows:

“Whether [the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.] 1052(a)’s prohibition on the federal registration of ‘immoral’ or ‘scandalous’ marks is facially invalid under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.”

Our alert summarizing the Federal Circuit’s December 2017 ruling in this case can be found here.

Fitch Even attorneys will report once the Court has issued its opinion.

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