The Lanham Act, also known as the Trademark Act of 1946, is the federal statute that governs trademarks, service marks, and unfair competition. For over half a century, The Lanham Act has prohibited “immoral[ ] or scandalous” trademarks. But in 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it violates the First Amendment.
Who does this ruling affect? It affects business people like Erik Brunetti, an artist and entrepreneur who founded the clothing line trademarked FUCT. According to Brunetti, the mark (which functions as the clothing’s brand name) is pronounced as four letters, one after the other: “F-U-C-T.”
The Supreme Court Just Ruled In Favor of Fuct https://t.co/JSCEwykKgR— FUCT®️ (@FUCT) June 24, 2019
FUCT: The “the equivalent of [the] past participle form of a well-known word of profanity”
SCOTUS started the opinion holding first that “if a trademark registration bar is viewpoint based, it is unconstitutional.” Good news for lovers of the profane and champions of free speech. It’s likely all of us will soon see “TM” placed after some serious R-rated language.
This ruling seemed inevitable after SCOTUS’ 2017 decision that struck down the prohibition on “disparaging” trademarks. This ruling was based on the same rationale that argues viewpoint based restrictions are unconstitutional.
Read more thoughts on how future Supreme Court rulings might affect your business.