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Profanity is Viewpoint, Trademark Filer Tells Appeals Court

March 13, 2018, 3:15 PM

A statute prohibiting vulgar and offensive trademark registrations infringes free speech because profanity expresses a viewpoint, fashion designer Erik Brunetti has told a federal appeals court.

Brunetti, in a brief filed March 12, argued that the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit should not grant a rehearing to the Patent and Trademark Office, which is seeking to defend the statute. A three-judge panel already sided with Brunetti and struck down the law as unconstitutional.

The prohibition had been part of federal trademark law for over 100 years. A decision to reopen the case may signal the court’s ...