Monday, June 24, 2019

Seven Words You Can Trademark

In Class Clown, his 1972 comedy album, George Carlin pilloried governmental restrictions that led to "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television."  On June 24, 2019, the United States Supreme Court ("Supremes") joined Carlin's critical chorus, holding that

The Lanham Act’s prohibition on registration of “immoral[ ] or scandalous” trademarks violates the First Amendment.
Although the Supremes are often unanimous in their decisions concerning intellectual property law, in this case only five justices unequivocally supported the decision, with the rest filing concurrences or dissents.  The decision, Iancu v. Brunetti, suggests that 15 U.S.C. §1052(a) of the Lanham Act, engages in viewpoint discrimination by allowing registration of words other than those the statute proscribes as "immoral" or "scandalous".  In doing so, it violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  This may be enough to make those who oppose registration of rude words by an official government agency -  the United States Patent & Trademark Office - swear out loud.