Two things are true about the world of trademarks—it is rarely boring, and something is always on the horizon. The following are some of the significant trademark decisions of 2019, as well as two critical cases to watch as 2020 begins: 1. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Iancu v. Brunetti rejected the Lanham Act’s ban on offensive marks on the grounds that such a ban violates the First Amendment Right of Free Speech. The case involved clothing brand FUCT, which stands for “Friends You Can’t Trust,” and its founder, Erik Brunetti, who sought to register the brand’s name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO refused to register the name, determining it was immoral and scandalous. Brunetti argued to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) that the mark was not vulgar, and that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act was unconstitutional because it violated the First Amendment. However, the TTAB affirmed the USPTO’s refusal and Brunetti appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC).
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