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SCOTUS strikes down ban on ‘scandalous’ and ‘immoral’ trademarks

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SCOTUS strikes down ban on scandalous trade marks

An unusual configuration of justices from both ideological wings of the Supreme Court came together Monday to strike down provisions in federal law denying federal registration to trademarks deemed “immoral” or “scandalous.”

The decision, which won the full backing of six of the justices, was the second time in two years that the high court knocked out a portion of federal trademark law as a violation of free speech rights.

Writing for the court’s majority, Justice Elena Kagan said the law ran afoul of the First Amendment rights of artist Erik Brunetti, who sought trademark protection for a clothing line called “FUCT.”

Officials at the Patent and Trademark Office rejected the proposed trademark, calling it “vulgar” and "highly offensive” and therefore banned from registration under the federal law on trademarks, the Lanham Act.



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