FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court building is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a longstanding U.S. ban on trademarks on “immoral” or “scandalous” words and symbols, ruling in a case involving a clothing brand with an indelicate name that the law violates constitutional free speech rights.
The justices ruled against President Donald Trump’s administration, which defended the law that had been in place since 1905, and in favor of Los Angeles streetwear designer Erik Brunetti, who was turned down by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when he sought to trademark his brand name FUCT.
The justices upheld a 2017 lower court ruling striking down the law as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to free expression. The Supreme Court’s decision removes the authority of government officials to bar federal trademark registration for profane language or sexually graphic images.
The Trump administration had warned that invalidating the law would unleash a torrent of extreme words and sexually graphic images on the marketplace.
Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham