‘Scan­dalous’ brand names have right to free speech

Lodi News-Sentinel - - NATION/WORLD - — Los An­ge­les Times

WASH­ING­TON — The Supreme Court ruled Mon­day that a Los An­ge­les cloth­ing maker had a free-speech right to win trade­mark pro­tec­tion for his FUCT brand.

The court said the gov­ern­ment could not re­ject a trade­mark claim be­cause it viewed the words or mes­sages as “scan­dalous.”

“The most fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of free speech law is that the gov­ern­ment can’t pe­nal­ize or dis­fa­vor or dis­crim­i­nate against ex­pres­sion based on the ideas or view­points it con­veys,” said Jus­tice Elena Ka­gan for the court.

Two years ago, the court ruled for an Asian band that called it­self the Slants and struck down the part of the trade­mark law that pro­hib­ited the use of “dis­parag­ing” words.

Brunetti has been sell­ing his clothes since 1991. He ap­plied to reg­is­ter his trade­mark in 2011 and sued af­ter be­ing turned down by the U.S. Patent and Trade­mark Of­fice.

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