Frommer, Professor, Erik Brunetti discussed on Morning Edition
Trademark office. So nobody can steal it. But what if you want to call your new enterprise something that we can obtain the radio under a law known as the Lanham act the patent and trademark office could reject such a name yesterday. The US supreme court heard arguments saying that that law, violates free speech genie frommer is an NYU law professor and wrote and the make us brief supporting the business owner challenging the law. Good morning. Good morning. So can you briefly explain the Lanham act in what parts of it are being challenged? What are the basic rules here? So the Lanham act provides federal protection to trademarks to symbols. And it protects those marks against use in ways that are likely to confuse consumers in what does it say about bad words? There are a number of grounds in the land. Amac that provide a basis to refuse registration one of those grounds is that immoral or scandalous marks cannot be registered. Now. This case involves Erik Brunetti who owns an apparel company whose name sounds just like the F word, but the last two letters are CT the federal trademark office denied him trademark protection for that business name. So what's the arguing? He's arguing that this provision in trademark law is contrary to the first amendment protections for free speech. Now, you make the argument that this rule is not necessarily applied consistently. Can you give us some examples from your research, my collaborator Barton, baby? And I we dug into the millions of trademark registration. Applications that are filed at the patent and trademark office over a period of about thirteen years. We saw is that the patent trademark office's doing this in quite inconsistent way at the same time, it'll refuse certain Mark applications for trying to register marks that are immoral or scandalous and also say that they are confusingly similar to the same goods or services that they just registered. I mean, I can imagine very easily people saying, well, these names are just inappropriate why should the trademark office? Give protection to such business names. It's a great point. And I have to say some of these marks that we went through our indeed ones, you might not wanna let us in polite company. Others wanna be more provocative you see things like cocaine for an energy drink, and maybe that helps them in the marketplace. For the government to be intervening here is problematic. If only because of the inconsistencies, we're finding because it's just that the trademark examiners are not able to do a good job consistently sorting out, which are the immoral or scandalous marks which ones are not. And if that's the case, maybe it's not great policy to be preventing them in the first place from registration in what you law. Professor genie. Frommer? It was a pleasure speaking with you. It was a pleasure. Thank you. Producers are Victoria, Craig Michael Lipton. Candice Monique as Ren Danielson and Sasha withdrew in New York. I'm Sabrina short with the marketplace morning report. For P m American public media before eight o'clock and with more about the area traffic..