US Decisions on Disparaging Marks in Light of SLANTS Ruling

US Decisions on Disparaging Marks in Light of SLANTS Ruling

July 11, 2017 / Landing Page

US Decisions on Disparaging Terms in Light of SLANTS Ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court just struck down part of the Lanham Act that prohibits the registration of disparaging trademarks in Matal v. Tam, No. 15-1293 (June 19, 2017). The ruling may affect other trademarks, that have been previously revoked based on the same statute.  Looking at past USPTO and court decisions in the Darts-ip Trademark Case Law Database concerning “disparaging terms” this issue has historically been split nearly down the middle with 48% of the trademarks being rejected due to having “disparaging terms”.

Part of the 1946 Lanham Act prohibits registration of a trademark that “may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute”. The Court held that the Lanham Act’s prohibition on registering federal trademarks that “disparage” any person violates the First Amendment.

Data for included pie chart includes all available decisions of all time in Darts-ip involving a decision on whether or not the terms are disparaging. The earliest decision available with this information dates back to 1977.

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