Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Supreme Court will hear FUCT trademark appeal

People in New Jersey might be interested in learning about an upcoming trademark case that will appear on the docket of the Supreme Court of the United States. The case involves the owner of a clothing line who is fighting to register the name of his line with its name, which is FUCT.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office originally denied the man's trademark application in 2011. The office ruled that the man's proposed trademark could not be registered because it represents a vulgar word and is thus scandalous. Under trademark law, proposed trademarks may be denied if they are immoral, contain material that is scandalous, or are deceptive.

The man appealed the USPTO's decision through the federal court system. In December 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the USPTO's decision and found that refusing to register a trademark because it sounds like a vulgar word is an unconstitutional infringement on free speech rights. The Trump Administration stepped into the case and asked for a ruling from the high court. The case will be heard by SCOTUS sometime during 2019.

People and businesses may benefit from registering their trademarks with the USPTO. When a trademark is registered, it prevents other parties from using it. People might want to get help from an intellectual property attorney when they are getting ready to file trademark applications. The attorney might complete a search to make certain that the intended mark is not already registered to someone else. Legal counsel can also provide advice about whether the intended mark is likely to be approved and may help a client through the process.

Source: Washington Times, "SCOTUS to review trademark that suggests F-word in 1st Amendment case against patent office,", Andrew Blake, Jan. 5, 2019

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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