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Disparaging marks and the First Amendment

by Kate E. Rieber Under Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act, certain marks are restricted from registration if they contain immoral or scandalous matter; essentially, if the mark would offend a large portion of the general public, or considered vulgar, that is sufficient to deem it immoral or scandalous, and thus deprive it of federal registration. For example, the mark “BULLSH*T” (without the asterisk!) registration was refused based on 2(a), immoral or scandalous matter. This section further goes on to state that if the mark disparages or brings into “contempt or disrepute” persons (alive or dead), institutions, beliefs and/or national symbols, such mark will be refused registration. However, in In re Tam, Appeal No. 2014-1203 (Fed. Cir. December 22, 2015) [precedential], a recent appeal decided by the Federal Circuit, the Court determined that refusing to register marks considered “disparaging” violates free speech and the First Amendment. In Tam, the applicant sought to register [...]

By |2018-01-18T09:49:33-05:00April 17th, 2016|Categories: |Comments Off on Disparaging marks and the First Amendment

What Happens to Trademarks When You Reorganize?

By Kate E. Rieber Did you know that you can lose control of your trademarks because of a simple corporate reorganization or business name change?  Trademarks and their related goodwill are assets and need to be moved from one entity to another in the right way to avoid losing your rights. For a variety of reasons, some business owners may decide to change their name.  Sometimes this can be because of a merger, or deciding that a corporation is more advantageous than an LLC, or simply because he or she wanted a business name that accurately reflected the goods and services of the business.  Moving from a DBA to an LLC, incorporating, or making seemingly minor changes in the wording of your business name can create confusion about who owns your brand and, on occasion, can actually undermine the value of long-held trademarks. Changing a business name can be a [...]

By |2016-05-19T13:04:58-05:00June 9th, 2015|Categories: |Tags: , , , , , , , |Comments Off on What Happens to Trademarks When You Reorganize?