Quantcast
Connect with us

US Supreme Court to hear case on vulgar trademarks

Published

on

The US Supreme Court takes up Monday the government’s refusal to register a trademark by a clothing line named “Fuct,” and arguments should be, well, salty.

The case pits a provision of US trademark law that allows the government to deny requests on the basis of “immoral” or “scandalous” words against the bedrock principles of free speech enshrined in the Constitution.

ADVERTISEMENT

It all started with provocateur, artist and designer Erik Brunetti, who founded the streetwear brand in 1990. It rhymes with plucked.

Under the label, he has since freely sold clothing with anti-religious, anti-government slogans and motifs, often parodying pop culture.

But in 2011, authorities refused to register “Fuct” at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), citing a provision that dates back to 1905.

Brunetti, feeling that his rights had been violated, took his fight to the courts.

In December 2017, a federal appeals court ruled in his favor. According to its findings, the law invoked violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution that guarantees free speech.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the administration of President Donald Trump then asked the top bench to give a final ruling on the matter.

– Dog poop –

The provision in question “does not restrict respondent’s ability to express himself, through use of his mark or otherwise, but simply denies him the advantages associated with federal trademark registration,” the US administration has argued.

“The board concluded that the mark was vulgar and therefore unregistrable.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Yet vulgarity plays an important role in society, according to the Cato Institute, which has backed Brunetti in the fight.

“A sentence like, ‘Will you pick up your dog’s shit, and stop him from pissing on my roses!’ would not mean the same thing if the profanity were replaced by politesse,” the libertarian think tank argued.

ADVERTISEMENT

And the 1905 law is applied in a “systematically inconsistent and arbitrary way,” said law professors Barton Beebe and Jeanne Fromer in an argument transmitted to Supreme Court.

They note, for example, that the fashion brand PHUC — which sounds the same as the swear word in question — got a trademark.

– Censorship of ideas? –

The way Brunetti sees it, the seemingly capricious nature of authorities’ decision-making is a way to censor ideas they dislike — noting that the USPTO in its rejection of his application stated he had sold clothes with “revolutionary themes, proudly subversive graphics and in-your-face imagery.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“His assaults on American culture critique capitalism, government, religion and pop culture,” it added.

Brunetti has asked the Supreme Court to apply the same reasoning it did in a 2017 case when it ruled that an Asian-American band could trademark its name “The Slants” despite its racist connotations.

“We have said time and again that ‘the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers,'” Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in that ruling, citing previous decisions.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

Fox News pundit: Tax returns ruling against Trump is ‘a win for him’ and ‘will help the president’

Published

on

Fox News pundit Katie Pavlich argued on Thursday that a Supreme Court ruling which opened the door for prosecutors to obtain Donald Trump's tax returns is actually "a win" for the president.

Pavlich made the remarks after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can request the president's tax records in a public corruption case.

"I think it's a win and a little bit of a loss for President Trump," Pavlich explained. "In the sense that he will now have to deal with a number of these issues and other presidents in the future will as well, whether they are valid requests for information or not and whether they are being made for political for reasons or for valid criminal investigations."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump melts down on Twitter after his own Supreme Court nominees rebuke him on financial cases

Published

on

On Thursday, following the 7-2 rulings from the Supreme Court rejecting President Donald Trump's claims of absolute immunity in the New York tax returns and House financial oversight cases, the president took to Twitter to complain.

In the thread, Trump whined that he was being unfairly targeted by the Supreme Court decisions — which were joined by the two justices he appointed — and claimed he was a victim of "prosecutorial misconduct."

We have a totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAIGHT...and nothing happens to them. This crime was taking place even before my election, everyone knows it, and yet all are frozen stiff with fear....

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

WATCH: Raging New York man screams racial slurs as he chases Black woman’s car

Published

on

An upstate New York man was charged with a hate crime after he chased a Black woman and her boyfriend shouting racial slurs.

Athina Mitchell and Charles Wilkinson were looking for a new fishing spot they'd heard about Sunday in Plattsburgh when an angry white man approached their car shouting, reported WPTZ-TV.

"Here n*gger, n*gger, n*gger," the man said, as if calling to her like a dog.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image