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Supreme Court Justices Signal Divide on Vulgar-Trademark Rights

April 15, 2019, 3:53 PM

U.S. Supreme Court justices seemed divided as they considered a law that bars the federal government from granting legal protections to trademarks that officials find to be lewd or vulgar.

Hearing arguments Monday in a case centering on a clothing line known as “FUCT,” the justices considered striking down a century-old provision that bars the inclusion of “scandalous” and “immoral” trademarks on a federal government registry. The case is a follow-up to a unanimous 2017 ruling that threw out a similar ban on disparaging trademarks.

Critics of the vulgarity ban say it can’t be applied consistently. The U.S. Patent and...

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