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Supreme Court strikes down prohibition on scandalous marks, in dealing with ‘FUCT’ clothing line

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The High court, establish that decisions on gerrymandering and census citizenship questions; Shannon Bream reports from the Supreme court.

The Supreme Court on Monday struck part of the Federal law block, marks, names or logos, wear “immoral” or “scandalous” pictures — including profanity and sexual images.

The judges said in a unanimous judgment that the law violated the constitutional rights of the designer, Erik Brunetti. The registration for his clothing brand “FUCT” (that is, the individual letters F-U-C-T) had been refused by a Federal court.

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“The Statute, on its face distinguishes between two opposing groups of ideas: those targeted, who wrote with conventional moral standards, and those the opposite to them the enemy; these induce social nods of approval, and those who provoke criminal offence and the conviction,” justice Elena Kagan in the opinion.

2a of the Lanham Act precludes currently, immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter, the disdain may or may incorrectly suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”

In the case of the application of the prohibition, the Patent and trademark office, the trademark checks whether the public would find in question is “shocking to the sense of truth, decency or propriety.” An appeals court found that “FUCT” was “highly offensive” and “vulgar” according to court documents.

But because the law “disfavors specific ideas,” Kagan wrote, it is a violation of the First Amendment. To illustrate this further, Kagan cites examples of approved and rejected trademarks in connection with drugs. This apparent endorsement of drug use, like “shot down, NOT HEALTHCARE WITHOUT THC” and “MARIJUANA-COLA” SPELL were. Anti-drug-brands, including “D. A. R. E. TO RESIST DRUGS AND VIOLENCE” and “SAY NO TO DRUGS—the REALITY IS approved, THE BEST TRAVEL IN LIFE”.

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In a concurring opinion, justice Samuel Alito’s voice, recognized that the government legally bar a brand such as “FUCT” if it has a tighter restriction, but that was not the case here. The existing law went too far by discriminating based on viewpoint, he argued.

“Viewpoint discrimination is poison for a free society,” Alito wrote, namely, that the court must “stand firm” on this issue, during “a time when freedom of expression is under attack.”

The results of the case, Iancu, v. Brunetti, mirror in 2017, a decision where the high court struck down a similar ban on “disparaging” marks, which may have an impact on peoples, cultures, beliefs, or national symbols.

Fox News’ Shannon Bream and Bill Mears contributed to this report.

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