Archer Law recently won a United States Supreme Court affirmation on behalf of a rock band that upholds free speech when applying for a trademark.
The firm represented Portland-based, Asian-American rock band, The Slants, who will be permitted to register their trademark under The Lanham Act (also known as the Trademark Act of 1946).
The case, Lee v. Tam, originated when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied musician Simon Shiao Tam the application under a Lanham Act provision nearly eight years ago, prohibiting the registration of trademarks that may “disparage . . . or bring . . . into contemp[t] or disrepute” any “persons, living or dead.” 15 U. S. C. §1052(a).
Three Archer attorneys, Ronald D. Coleman, John C. Connell and Joel G. MacMull, represented Tam in his successful defense of the ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in December 2015, which reversed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s refusal to register Mr. Tam’s trademark under the disparagement clause of §2(a) of the Lanham Act.
The Supreme Court’s ruling reaffirmed the Federal Circuit’s decision that the government’s denial was unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment noting, “We now hold that this provision violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”
“Today’s landmark decision is an overwhelming victory for Mr. Tam, the members of his band and the many advocates across the country who work so tirelessly to preserve our First Amendment rights,” stated John C. Connell, partner and chair of both the appellate advocacy and communications law groups at Archer. “The debate over the propriety of language may continue, but only where it belongs: in the crucible of open, wide-ranging public discourse, unimpeded by the government acting as the arbiter of what is and is not permissible speech.”
Additionally, the verdict provides clarity on the disparagement provision, which Archer’s attorneys successfully argued was, in addition to violating First Amendment considerations, too vague and imprecise in its language and application to be constitutional.
For more Archer Law’s, full statement and response, visit here.
The full Supreme Court opinion can be found here.