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Supreme Court says law banning registration of 'scandalous' trademarks violates First Amendment

Posted at 7:53 AM, Jun 24, 2019

The Supreme Court struck down Monday a provision of federal law that prohibits the registration of "immoral" or "scandalous" trademarks as a violation of the First Amendment.

The justices' ruling clears the way for a clothing designer to apply for a federal trademark for his clothing line called FUCT.

The 6-3 ruling could open the doors to more requests to register words or phrases that have been considered vulgar, a concern that the court's minority feared.

Entrepreneur Erik Brunetti said he founded a clothing brand in 1990 to question authority and the assumptions of society. He said his company's name stands for "FRIENDS U CAN'T TRUST."

In 2011, Brunetti sought to register the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in order to obtain benefits such as expanding rights against others attempting to use the same mark.

The justices suggested Congress should take up the issue and write a more narrowly tailored law.