News & Analysis as of

The Slants

It’s Official — Trademarks are “FUCT”

It was only a matter of time. THE “GOOD OLD DAYS” BEFORE DISPARAGING, VULGAR AND SCANDALOUS TRADEMARKS For seventy years the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) refused to register marks that consisted of...more

Federal Circuit Bleeps Lanham Act Ban on Immoral or Scandalous Marks

by McDermott Will & Emery on

Following the Supreme Court of the United States’ 2017 decision in Matal v. Tam (i.e., the Slants case) finding the proscription on the registration of disparaging trademarks under § 2(a) of the Lanham Act to be an...more

Sue-per Bowl Shuffle IV: The Year In NFL-Related Intellectual Property Litigation

If you are a lawyer, there is a serious danger that someone at the Super Bowl party you attend is going to want to talk about an NFL-related legal issue. Did Cowboys owner Jerry Jones really have standing to challenge...more

After the Supreme Court Touchdown, Washington Redskins Are Finally Winning at the Fourth Circuit and the PTO

Two incredible things happened in 1992 for the NFL football team Washington Redskins. It won the Super Bowl and applied to register a trademark Washington Redskins. It has not been so lucky ever since. It has not won another...more

Federal Circuit Decision Leaves Lanham Act’s Provision Barring Registration Of Immoral And Scandalous Marks “FUCT”

by Fox Rothschild LLP on

It is not often that a court of law can issue a landmark opinion laden with profanity and sexual innuendos. But last Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit seized the opportunity in a colorful...more

Federal Circuit Holds “Scandalous and Immoral” Ban Unconstitutional

by Snell & Wilmer on

Last Friday, in In re Brunetti, the Federal Circuit held that the ban on “scandalous and immoral” trademarks under 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a) is unconstitutional. The decision follows the June 19, 2017, Supreme Court decision, Matal...more

Alert: US Appeals Court Strikes Ban on Registering ‘Immoral’ or ‘Scandalous’ Trademarks

by Cooley LLP on

In a much-anticipated and yet unsurprising outcome, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on December 15 struck the law barring registration of "immoral" or "scandalous" trademarks as unconstitutional in violation...more

DYKES ON BIKES No Longer Idling After Matal v. Tam

by Winthrop & Weinstine, P.A. on

Simon Tam wasn’t the only one barred by the Lanham Act from reclaiming a historically derogatory term. Dykes on Bikes is a nonprofit lesbian motorcycle organization. According to their website, the group’s mission is to...more

Supreme Court Corner Q3 2017

by DLA Piper on

MATAL V. TAM - Simon Shiao Tam leads a dance-rock band and sought to trademark the band's name: The Slants. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) upheld the PTO's decision not to register the mark under § 2(a),...more

Gavel to Gavel: Scandalous and immoral (trademarks)

by McAfee & Taft on

Since 1946, federal law has prohibited registration of scandalous, immoral and disparaging trademarks. This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court found the prohibition on disparaging trademarks to be unconstitutional, creating...more

The Supreme Court’s Tam Decision: Federally Registered Offensive Trademarks

On June 19, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the longstanding federal prohibition against registering offensive trademarks is unconstitutional. The decision represents a stark departure from long prevailing U.S. judicial...more

The Washington Redskins Win Their Trademark Battle in Overtime

by Garvey Schubert Barer on

Simon Tam of the Asian rock band, The Slants, probably was not envisioning an 8-year-long legal battle when he chose the group’s name. Slant is known as a racial slur for Asians. Tam hoped to strip the term of its derogatory...more

In Matal V. Tam, Scotus Rules Prohibition On Disparaging Trademarks Unconstitutional

The Asian American members of the band the Slants adopted that name to “reclaim” and “take ownership” of the derogatory term. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) refused to register a trademark application...more

Key SCOTUS Decisions in Tech – First Half 2017

by Fenwick & West LLP on

Despite being short one justice for much of the year, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down multiple significant decisions this past term that can unsettle long-standing legal understandings in multiple technology fields. These...more

Distillations: The Slants Case, Distilled

by Fish & Richardson on

Oceans of ink and zillions of electrons have been spilled commenting on the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Matal v. Tam, in which the Court held that the Trademark Act’s prohibition on registration of “disparaging” marks...more

The First Amendment Protects The Trademark Registrability Of THE SLANTS And THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS Irrespective Of Political...

by Weintraub Tobin on

In 2014, the Washington Redskins lost a battle before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) where the petitioner, a group of Native American activists, sought cancellation of the “Washington Redskins” trademark, which...more

MoFo IP Newsletter - July 2017

by Morrison & Foerster LLP on

Supreme Court Hits Reset on Patent Venue Law in TC Heartland - In the recent TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC decision, the Supreme Court reversed nearly thirty years of patent venue law and held that a...more

Free speech legal battle changes law on disparaging trademarks

by McAfee & Taft on

Last month, in Matal v. Tam, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision that struck down a portion of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act....more

Three Questions from the Supreme Court’s Decision on “Offensive” Trademarks

by Dickinson Wright on

Last week the Supreme Court ruled that the Trademark Office may not refuse federal registration to a trademark merely because the mark is “disparaging.” The decision has attracted a lot of media attention, much of it...more

Band Trademark Can Rock On: Lanham Act Disparagement Clause Unconstitutional

by McDermott Will & Emery on

In an 8–0 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed an en banc panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and found the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act to be facially unconstitutional...more

Shocking Trademarks May Now Be Viable, But Medical Marijuana Marks Remain an Impossible Dream

by Baker Donelson on

The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down as unconstitutional the ban on disparaging trademark registrations, but that doesn’t mean a dispensary can get a federal trademark registration. The Supreme Court’s June 19...more

Supreme Court Rules Trademarks are Protected by First Amendment's Free Speech Clause

by Best Best & Krieger LLP on

Trademarks do not constitute government speech, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled. Instead, trademarks qualify as speech protected by the First Amendment Free Speech Clause. As a result, the government cannot reject a...more

Offensive Trademarks Are Protected Free Speech Under The First Amendment

by Weintraub Tobin on

Simon Tam is the lead singer of the rock group call “The Slants’, which is composed of Asian-Americans. Tam applied for federal trademark registration of the band’s name. While the term “slants” is a derogatory term for...more

Matal v. Tam: Supreme Court Rules USPTO Prohibition of Offensive Marks Based On Disparagement Clause Is Unconstitutional Under...

Historically, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has refused to register trademarks considered to be offensive in that they disparaged a particular person, group or institution. Now the PTO cannot deny the...more

What’s In a Name?

by Pessin Katz Law, P.A. on

On June 19, 2017, Justice Samuel A. Alito, delivered the unanimous opinion of the United States Supreme Court (the “Court”) in Matal v Tam, No. 15-1293, Oct. Term, 2016, argued January 18, 2017. Simply stated, the Court...more

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