US U.S. top court says law banning disparaging trademarks is unconstitutional

17:41  19 june  2017
17:41  19 june  2017 Source:   Reuters

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A First Amendment Right to Disparaging Trademarks ?: U . S . Supreme Court Asked to Review Federal Circuit Decision Holding Ban on Disparaging Marks Unconstitutional . Rather, a disparaging mark may be used and can enjoy common law protections without registration.

Eleven judges agreed that the disparagement rule was unconstitutional , with nine of them signing on to Patently Offensive. The list of trademarks that have been debated as possibly disparaging is fascinating. The PTO says this mark is legal, so it must be okay. Stop being offended!"

FILE - In this April 4, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court Building is seen in Washington. In an era of deep partisan division, the Supreme Court could soon decide whether the drawing of electoral districts can be too political. A dispute over Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn boundaries for the state legislature offers Democrats some hope of cutting into GOP electoral majorities across the United States.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)© The Associated Press FILE - In this April 4, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court Building is seen in Washington. In an era of deep partisan division, the Supreme Court could soon decide whether the drawing of electoral districts can be too political. A dispute over Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn boundaries for the state legislature offers Democrats some hope of cutting into GOP electoral majorities across the United States.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a law forbidding official registration of offensive trademarks unconstitutionally limits free speech in a case involving a band called The Slants, an outcome the government has said could lead to a proliferation of racial slurs as sanctioned trademarks.

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Law barring registration of disparaging trademarks is unconstitutionalThe Slants can register their mark . The court held that denying registration of such trademarks was viewpoint discrimination by the government and unconstitutional .

But federal trademark officials said motive didn’t matter, citing an obscure 70-year-old federal law banning government-approved trademarks that “may disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols.” “If this Court rules that [the disparagement ban ] is unconstitutional

The court ruled in favor of Portland, Oregon-based Asian-American dance rock band The Slants, which had been denied a trademark because the government deemed the name disparaging to people of Asian descent. The band challenged the rejection as a violation of free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, winning at the appeals court level before the government appealed to the high court.

The ruling is expected to have a direct impact on another high-profile case involving the National Football League's Washington Redskins. The team filed a legal challenge to a 2014 decision by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office tribunal canceling its trademarks as disparaging to Native Americans.

After the government rejected The Slants request, band frontman Simon Tam appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, which in 2015 ruled that the so-called disparagement provision of the 1946 law governing trademarks ran afoul of the Constitution's guarantee of free speech.

China overturns rejections of 9 Trump trademarks

  China overturns rejections of 9 Trump trademarks The move is likely to fuel further allegations that Beijing may be giving the president's family business special treatment. Trump's decision to retain ownership of his global branding empire has sparked criticism over perceived conflicts of interest and three lawsuits, including one filed Wednesday by nearly 200 Democrats in Congress, which allege violations of a constitutional prohibition against accepting gifts from foreign governments.

Under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act (the U . S . trademark law ), disparaging trademarks cannot be registered and cannot take advantage of the benefits given to trademark owners He argued that, under the First and Fifth Amendment, the Section 2(a) “ disparagement ” refusal was unconstitutional .

Today, the Federal Circuit ruled the federal government' s ban on " disparaging " trademark registrations is unconstitutional . “Many of the marks rejected as disparaging convey hurtful speech that harms members of oft-stigmatized communities,” the appeals court wrote.

Tam has said he chose to call the band The Slants to reclaim a term some consider a derogatory reference to Asian people's eyes, and wear it as a "badge of pride." The band's lawyers have argued that the government cannot use trademark law to impose burdens on free speech to protect listeners from offense.

The federal government, which appealed the appeals court ruling, said in court papers that the government should not be required to approve trademarks "containing crude references to women based on parts of their anatomy; the most repellent racial slurs and white-supremacist slogans; and demeaning illustrations of the prophet Mohammed and other religious figures." (Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)

RELATED VIDEO:  Asian-American Rock Band Denied Trademark For 'Disparaging' Name (provided by CBS News)

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Source: http://us.pressfrom.com/news/us/-60312-u-s-top-court-says-law-banning-disparaging-trademarks-is-unconstitutional/

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