Posts Tagged: "The Slants"

NYIPLEF 1st Annual Diversity Scholarship Event” featuring THE SLANTS

New York Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation (NYIPLEF) is excited to announce our “1st Annual Diversity Scholarship Event” featuring THE SLANTS in support of a great cause – to provide substantial scholarship funds to diverse, outstanding law students. Our affair will be held on Thursday, October 25, 2018, 6:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP located…

Matal v. Tam: What’s New and What to Watch in Registration of Disparaging, Immoral, and Scandalous Trademarks

Many other related issues remain ripe for consideration in Brunetti and future cases. Most significantly, are trademarks considered “commercial speech?”  If so, laws relating to trademarks might be subject to relaxed scrutiny for constitutional compliance rather than strict scrutiny… While Tam settled some issues related to The Slants, the Washington Redskins, and D*kes on Bikes, the decision’s full impact remains to be seen.  Brunetti seems to be a promising avenue for the Supreme Court to address some of the tangential issues left open by the Tam decision.

Disparaging, Immoral, and Scandalous Trademarks Since Matal v. Tam

A little more than one year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Lanham Act’s disparagement clause as unconstitutional in Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744 (June 19, 2017).  While Tam settled some issues related to The Slants, the Washington Redskins, and D*kes on Bikes, the decision’s full impact remains to be seen. Issues remain ripe for future consideration. Most significantly, are trademarks considered “commercial speech?”  If so, laws relating to trademarks might be subject to relaxed scrutiny for constitutional compliance rather than strict scrutiny.

USPTO Navigates New Territory In The Wake of Matal v. Tam

The USPTO issued Examination Guide 01-17 on Monday, June 26, 2017, entitled “Examination Guidance for Section 2(a)’s Disparagement Provision after Matal v. Tam and Examination for Compliance with Section 2(a)’s Scandalousness Provision While Constitutionality Remains in Question.” This Guide explains how trademark applications with arguably disparaging or scandalous content will be examined in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision in Matal… The Supreme Court’s ruling in Matal cleared the way for a slew of new and possibly offensive trademark applications of a kind that have been consistently denied since 1946. Whether this protection will be extended to a wider category of potentially incendiary marks hinges on the Federal Court’s pending review of Brunetti.

Supreme Court Ruling Opens Door to Additional Constitutional Challenges to the Lanham Act

The Supreme Court ruled that the anti-disparagement clause in the Lanham Act violates the Free Speech Clause in the First Amendment. Matal v. Tam. As a result, the United States Patent and Trademark Office may no longer deny registration of a federal trademark application on the ground of disparagement. Several states, including Massachusetts and New Hampshire, have anti-disparagement trademark provisions that will no longer be enforceable either… The statute does not define ‘scandalous’, but like the restriction against disparaging marks, the courts and the PTO focus on whether a mark is offensive.

Supreme Court Rocks the Trademark Office in ‘Slants’ Case

After a streak of six patent decisions uniformly overruling the Federal Circuit, and for the first time all term, the Supreme Court finally handed the Federal Circuit a win this week. In its landmark ruling in Matal v. Tam (formerly Lee v. Tam), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the restriction on the registration of marks that “disparage” under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a). Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote unanimously for the eight justices in holding that Section 2(a)’s prohibition on disparaging registrations violates “a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”

Supreme Court says disparagement clause violates the First Amendment Free Speech Clause

Earlier this morning the United States Supreme Court delivered a much-anticipated decision in Matal v. Tam, the trademark case that asks whether a disparaging trademark can be federally registered. The Court explained that the disparagement clause violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give a Tam: The Oddball Consequences of In re Tam

The Supreme Court heard oral argument on the cloudy Wednesday morning of January 18, 2017. Although the Justices posed tough questions and intricate hypotheticals to both sides, the tone of each Justice’s questions and their individual jurisprudences indicate an even 4-4 split, with Justices Breyer, Ginsberg, Kagan, and Sotomayor favoring the USPTO, and Justices Alito, Kennedy, Thomas, and Chief Justice Roberts favoring Tam. Of course, oral argument is often shaky, at best, when predicting the outcome of a case, especially one with such potential for a drastic overhaul of a body of law… Although no one can know for certain the outcome of Lee v. Tam, one consequence that appears very likely is that, if the Court does rule in favor Tam, it would strike the entirety of Section 2(a), not just the portion prohibiting disparaging marks that forms the central issue of the case. John C. Connell, counsel for Tam, went so far as to call that result “inevitable” in response to Justice Ginsberg’s question on the topic.

A Slanted View of Scandalous and Disparaging Trademarks

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument in Lee v. Tam for January 18… The genesis of the case is a Portland, Oregon all-Asian-American band called The Slants, founded by petitioner Simon Shiao Tam. An application for trademark was made and the USPTO said “NO” on the basis that “The Slants” is a highly disparaging term and therefore must be denied registration under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act… The cultural and societal value of the free flow of speech trumps government regulation. The Supreme Court should uphold the Constitution and confirm the importance of robust political debate, cultural discourse, and the right to use ANY words as part of a personal identity.

Supreme Court to decide if disparagement provision in the Lanham Act is invalid under the First Amendment?

Based on the question presented in Lee v. Tam, the Supreme Court made clear that its grant of review is only as to the disparagement provision in Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), but the outcome of this case will affect the other types of marks excluded by Section 2(a), such as marks that may be viewed as immoral or scandalous. Indeed, in a footnote in its en banc decision the Federal Circuit “recognized…that other portions of § 2 may likewise constitute government regulation of expression based on message, such as the exclusions of immoral or scandalous marks….”

Supreme Court to Consider “Disparaging” Trademarks

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed yesterday to review a Federal Circuit ruling that held unconstitutional a law prohibiting registration of trademarks that “may disparage” people or groups. In a case involving an Asian-American dance band’s bid to register its name THE SLANTS as a trademark, the court will consider whether the bar on registering disparaging marks in Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), violates the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. In the meantime, the Court is expected to rule soon on the Washington Redskins’ cert petition in Pro-Football, Inc. v. Blackhorse, No. 15-1874, challenging a decision of the Eastern District of Virginia upholding the PTO’s cancellation of the REDSKINS trademarks under that same provision.

Amid Cultural Debate on Political Correctness, Trademarks with Racial Overtones Look Set for Supreme Court

Two cases making their way through the Federal courts may force the Supreme Court to consider the issue of what sorts of trademarks should be considered “disparaging,” and whether the government may lawfully prevent the registration of such trademarks… The Redskins appealed to the Fourth Circuit in August 2015 and the parties’ and amici briefs have been rolling ever since. As of April 25, 2016, the Redskins have petitioned the United States Supreme Court to review their case, skipping over the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.

Offensive Trademark Applications Suspended by USPTO Until Supremes Rule on In re Tam

In anticipation of Supreme Court review of Tam, the Commissioner has issued an informal directive to trademark examiners that any application for a mark that is potentially violative of Section 2(a) should be “suspended” rather than refused on that basis until the Supreme Court takes up Tam and its companion cases. In addition, although the Tam decision was expressly limited to the “disparagement” provision in Section 2(a), the Commissioner’s directive apparently applies to all Section 2(a) bases for refusal (immoral, deceptive, scandalous, or disparaging). All non-Section 2(a) application issues will still be addressed prior to suspension.

Talking Trademarks: An Exclusive Interview with INTA’s Debbie Cohn

What follows is our wide ranging discussion, which start out with what Cohn is doing with INTA and then moves into an in depth discussion of issues surrounding counterfeiting, the newly formed Trademark Caucus in Congress, and the recent Federal Circuit decision on disparaging trademark registrations in the so-called Slants case. We ended with the familiar fun questions that give us an opportunity to get to know Cohn.

Statute Barring Registration of Disparaging Trademarks Upended

Tam appealed to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”), but the Board affirmed the Trademark Examiner’s refusal to register the mark. The Board found that although THE SLANTS has several meanings, the record demonstrated that it was “abundantly clear” that the likely meaning of the mark referred to people of Asian descent. Mr. Tam again appealed, this time to the Federal Circuit, arguing that § 2(a) is unconstitutional. The first time around, the Federal Circuit agreed with the Examiner and the Board. In a rare procedure, the Federal Circuit sua sponte ordered a rehearing en banc to review the constitutionality of § 2(a). Upon rehearing en banc, the Federal Circuit overturned McGinley in its 9-3 decision.