Court: group’s name too offensive to receive federal trademark

| May 14, 2014 | Trademark Law

Trying to register a trademark can be complicated process, especially if you end up in a trademark dispute. Business owners in California should be aware of a recent trademark dispute case that ended up being heard by a federal appeals court after the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board rejected an applicant’s trademark request.

The applicant founded the group “Stop Islamization of American” and wanted to register the name of the group. However, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board rejected her application. The case was then heard in a federal appeals court, where a three-judge panel looked at the applicant’s previous ad campaigns and articles posted on her website to see how she used the term Islamization. The panel ruled that her group’s name would not receive a federal trademark due to the offensive nature of the term and group’s work. The panel said that the group name is offensive to Muslims and does not qualify for trademark protection. 

While this case didn’t case happen in California, business owners should be aware of how their trademark application may be reviewed and investigated by the trademark office and potentially the court system. If the office or court views a trademark request as offensive, the application may be rejected and it will not receive any trademark protection.

Applying for trademark protection can be a complex issue and there are many factors to consider when deciding what name to include in the application. It is important for business owners to know that not all trademark applications will be approved. If you think your trademark application may be rejected or if you have concerns about your trademark name possibly being offensive, you should consult an attorney to discuss your options before you file for trademark protection. 

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Appeals Court Says ‘Islamization’ Trademark is Too Offensive,” Jacob Gershman, May 13, 2014

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