Saying The F-Word Isn’t Unconstitutional, And Neither Is Getting It Trademarked 🗣

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Entrepreneur Erik Brunetti fought to register his brand “FUCT” as a trademark

The clothing line, which he says stands for “Friends U Can’t Trust,” has been around since 1990. In 2011, Brunetti attempted to trademark the brand initials, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office denied him on grounds of scandalousness. The issue went to the Supreme Court, which ruled 6-3 to allow the brand. 

What did the Supreme Court say?

Justice Elena Kagan, along with Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch all ruled in favor of the trademark, saying that “a law disfavoring 'ideas that offend' discriminates based on viewpoint, in violation of the First Amendment.” Those opposed claim that disallowing vulgarity does not interfere with free speech at all and simply maintains propriety. 


LEANING RIGHT:

Fox News: Supreme Court strikes down ban on scandalous trademarks, in dispute over ‘FUCT’ clothing line

Daily Wire: SCOTUS overturns ban on vulgar, immoral trademark registrations

The right points out the ways this could further degrade popular society. Headlines feature words like “vulgar” and “immoral” heavily, as previously declined trademarks hinge on their immorality, so claiming immorality in this situation would strengthen the case for not allowing the brand. While members of the right champion the sanctity of the First Amendment and uphold the SCOTUS’s decision, many still oppose the brand for personal reasons. 

LEANING LEFT:

NBC: Supreme Court allows trademark for F-word soundalike clothing brand

CNN: Supreme Court says law banning registration of 'scandalous' trademarks violates First Amendment

The left sees this as a win for free speech. Articles phrase the decision in a positive light, putting the word “scandalous” in quotation marks and censoring the brand name itself in headlines. CNN’s article explains a bit more of Brunetti’s reasons for the name and the history of his brand. Articles highlight how the Supreme Court’s decision protects other possible infringements on free speech moving forward, even in cases that many people might find uncomfortable. 


Where’s the common ground?

There is a remarkable amount of synergy, with both Ginsberg and Kavanaugh on the same side. None of the justices seem to support the brand name, as even Kagan explained that the “clothing line is pronounced as four letters, one after the other: F-U-C-T. But you might read it differently and, if so, you would hardly be alone,” indicating distaste. That said, the justices believe that the brand must be allowed in order to protect First Amendment rights. 

When you agree, but barely

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