So this dude Eric Brunetti owns a clothing company called FUCT. Now, we can act like it’s an acronym all we want, but the point is clearly that it’s to be pronounced as “fucked.”
In 2011, an intent-to-use patent was filed for his brand, but the Lanham Act governs such patents, and section 2(a) says:
No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it—
(a) Consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute; or a geographical indication which, when used on or in connection with wines or spirits, identifies a place other than the origin of the goods and is first used on or in connection with wines or spirits by the applicant on or after one year after the date on which the WTO Agreement (as defined in section 3501(9) of title 19) enters into force with respect to the United States.
So the attorney processing the request for the patent told the applicants to get fucked. (See what I did there?)
Brunetti appealed, and the appeals court agreed with the finding that it violated 2(a), but decided that such a restriction was a violation of the first amendment which guarantees free speech.
So off we go to SCOTUS, and it was a slam dunk. While Iancu tried to argue that government has a role to play in protecting our fragile little ears, and our fragile little psyches from such dastardly phrases as the word “fuck” or anything that sounds like it, despite the fact that we damn near all say it every day, the justices weren’t having it.
Iancu even busted out the George Carlin argument, about words you can’t say. Classic bit. But to no avail.
All nine justices agreed, it is a restriction on free speech, and Iancu from the Secretary of Commerce office can get FUCT.
Hear oral arguments or read about the case here.