Supreme Court Again Strikes Down Trademark Restrictions

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court announced its decision in Iancu v. Brunetti, holding that prohibiting trademarks that consist of or comprise immoral or scandalous matter(1) violates the First Amendment. The majority, written by Justice Kagan, centered its finding on the fact that the Act’s “immoral or scandalous” criterion is viewpoint-based which results in viewpoint-discriminatory application. In other words, a Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) Examiner must issue registrations from an impartial perspective, not from their own judgment. For example, a PTO trademark examiner would allow marks that support society’s ideas of decency and morality, but reject marks that do not align with those concepts.


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