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Published: June 24, 2019

US Supreme Court Allows Foul Language Trademarks in F-Word Case

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a longstanding U.S. ban on trademarks on “immoral” or “scandalous” words and symbols, ruling in a case involving a clothing brand with an indelicate name that the law violates constitutional free speech rights.

The justices ruled against President Donald Trump’s administration, which defended the law that had been in place since 1905, and in favor of Los Angeles streetwear designer Erik Brunetti, who was turned down by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when he sought to trademark his brand name …

All nine justices agreed in the decision written by liberal Justice Elena Kagan that the prohibition on “immoral” trademarks ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to free expression. However, three justices wrote dissents to say the bar on “scandalous” trademarks should have been upheld. …

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and John Roberts were the three justices who partly dissented. Sotomayor said the government will now have no choice but to register “the most vulgar, profane or obscene words and images imaginable.”

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