Updated: June 24, 2019 / 10:21 a.m.
On Monday, the Supreme Court slammed down on a long-term U.S. ban regarding trademarks on both “immoral” or “scandalous” words and symbols, ruling in favor of a case which involved a clothing brand with an indecent name.
The justices ruled against President Trump’s administration, defending a law which was set in place since 1905. The justices were also in favor of the Los Angeles streetwear designer, Erik Brunetti, who was turned down by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after seeking to trademark his brand name FUCT.
All nine justices agreed with the decision that was written by liberal Justice Elena Kagan that the prohibition on “immoral” trademarks ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to free expression. However, three justices wrote dissents to say the bar on “scandalous” trademarks should have been upheld.
In 2011, a trademark application for FUCT got rejected, the Patent and Trademark Office claimed that the brand name sounded like profanity and concluded that Brunetti’s products contained sexual imagery, violence, and misogyny.
“There are a great many immoral and scandalous ideas in the world (even more than there are swear words),” Kagan wrote in Monday’s decision, adding that the trademark law covers them all. “It therefore violates the First Amendment.”
“Today is a good day for Americans,” Brunetti’s lawyer John Sommer said. “The U.S. Supreme Court has taken the government out of the business of deciding questions of morality.”
The Patent and Trademark Office mentioned they are reviewing the decision. The Justice Department has since declined to comment.