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Trademark Victory in the Supreme Court #SIOA

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Today the US Supreme Court ruled in our favor, that the government may not refuse to register “potentially offensive” names (SIOA is not offensive, that is a smear). We have been suing to trademark SIOA (Stop Islamization of America) for a number of years, but were repeatedly refused, because it was considered “disparaging” to Muslims. Longtime Geller Report readers are quite familiar with our First Amendment trademark case. It was, in effect, an application of sharia law (“do not criticize Islam”).

The USPTO rejected AFDI’s trademark application based on the following analysis:

(1) “Islamisation” means converting to Islam or “to make Islamic;” and (2), “Stop” would be understood to mean that “action must be taken to cease, or put an end to, converting or making people in America conform to Islam.” Thus, the trademark, according to the “Office Action” ruling, disparaged Muslims and linked them to terrorism. (AFLC)

From WaPo today: The court concludes that “Stop the Islamization of America” mark, as used by its promoters, is likely to be understood as “disparaging to a substantial composite” of Muslims, whether “Islamization” refers to conversion to Islam or to “a political movement to replace man-made laws with the religious laws of Islam.”

Other organizations suffered the consequences of these capricious, arbitrary rulings.

Back in late 2015, we had an historic reversal of this unconstitutional rulings. My legal team, the AFLC, wrote:

In the case In re Tam, the federal court, which specializes in patent and trademark cases, found that the USPTO’s rejection of the musical group name “The Slants” because it disparaged Asians was unconstitutional because there was no “compelling state interest” to censure the viewpoint of the trademark owner.  As a result, Simon Tam will now be able to register his band name as a federal trademark, thus allowing him to protect the name and products and services sold using that name against encroachers and counterfeiters.

What made this decision possible was the recent litigation waged by the American Freedom Law Center (“AFLC”) on behalf of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer to register their trademark, “Stop the Islamisation of America” (“SIOA”).  Like the Slants trademark, the USPTO rejected the SIOA trademark on the ground that it disparaged Muslims and even Islamists by suggesting they should be “stopped.”  AFLC argued the case before a three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit Court, which upheld the USPTO ruling of disparagement.

Justices Strike Down Law Banning Disparaging Trademarks

WASHINGTON — In a decision likely to bolster the Washington Redskins’ efforts to protect its trademarks, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the government may not refuse to register potentially offensive names. A law denying protection to disparaging trademarks, the court said, violated the First Amendment.

The decision was unanimous, but the justices were divided on the reasoning.

The decision, concerning an Asian-American dance-rock band called the Slants, probably also means that the Washington Redskins football team will win its fight to retain federal trademark protection.

The law at issue in both cases denies federal trademark protection to messages that may disparage people, living or dead, along with “institutions, beliefs or national symbols.”

In 2015, a federal appeals court in Washington found the law’s disparagement provision unconstitutional in a case brought by the Slants. Writing for the majority in a 9-to-3 decision, Judge Kimberly A. Moore of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said that while some of the rejected trademarks “convey hurtful speech that harms members of oft-stigmatized communities,” the First Amendment “protects even hurtful speech.”

Supreme Court decisions in recent years have protected offensive speech, including hateful protests at military funerals, depictions of animal cruelty and lies about military honors. More generally, the court said in 2015 in Reed v. Town of Gilbert that laws “that target speech based on its communicative content” were “presumptively unconstitutional.”

Pamela Geller's shocking new book, "FATWA: HUNTED IN AMERICA" is now available on Amazon. It's Geller's tell all, her story - and it's every story - it's what happens when you stand for freedom today. Buy it. Now. Here.

  • livingengine
  • Bill

    An 8-0 decision is overwhelming. I predicted this outcome, but I thought the opinion would be either 7-1 or 6-2.
    Sometimes, one is pleasantly surprised. https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-1293_1o13.pdf

    • Pessimists experience pleasant surprises more often than optimists.

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  • pdxnag

    If a so-called Muslim declares apostasy from Islam just after learning of the mandatory commands to wage war against non-Muslims were they ever really a “Muslim”?

    I think it is perfectly fine to harangue any Muslim who does not declare apostasy from Islam just after learning of the mandatory commands to wage war against non-Muslims. They would clearly take offense – and call for you to be beheaded if they have the power to implement Sharia in all its glory.

    I suppose some pious Muslim could dispassionately not be offended even as they say Islam calls for you to lose your head. To criticize Islam is to criticize pious Muslims.

  • Mr Paul Middleton

    Fantastic – thank you from all of us, Pamela, AFDI.

  • RalphB

    This is a very good sign that there will be no way the postmodern progressives will succeed in their dream of further parlaying their successful brainwashing of college youth into thinking that (so-called) “hate speech” is not protected speech. They keep trying to shut down dissent despite numerous previous rulings protecting ‘improper’ speech.

    They had already persuaded numerous Democrats and bureaucrats (e.g., the trademark office) that some words were ‘microaggressions’ and therefore the equivalent of violence, but they have been called out on this. We haven’t won yet, of course. It will take a very aggressive Jeff Sessions and other Cabinet Secretaries to get rid of the residue of this attitude throughout the bureaucracy and I’m not sure they see how vital this is. I don’t know how the Trump team could be trashed by the MSM more than they already have been but they may see this issue as not worth the grief. However, if Education Secretary Betsy DeVos doesn’t immediately reverse all those Title IX rulings that make negative or ‘incorrect’ opinions on ‘protected classes’ grounds for punishment and expulsion from college, then she is making a big mistake as well as failing to do her job.

    If we use this ruling correctly, we might actually get voices of freedom like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Milo Yiannopoulos, and voices of intellectual dissent like Charles Murray, Jordan Peterson, and Bret Weinstein (look them up if you need to) actually heard on college campuses again. It’s that important.

    Plus, SIOA gets trademark protection which makes it harder for the leftist-Islamic alliance to defame the association by using its trademark — another good thing. Congratulations to Pamela and the trademark holders who won back their First Amendment rights with this ruling.

  • Mahou Shoujo

    Good, the crescent and star of islam offends many people as it represents bigotry, hatred and violence, but it is still tolerated. The option of not looking at offensive material exists no one has the right to not be offended.

    • Jack Holan

      Excellent point,Mahou. Muslims have an insatiable appetite to use all means to subjugate anything the believe is a threat from the Non-Believer. Over the years they’ve become quite sophisticated and use lawfare to achieve many of their objectives. Any law, regulation they decide to litigate must be important or they would bother and should be resisted with greater vigor.

      • Mahou Shoujo

        The first thing to do is make islam illegal, as it is bigoted, intolerant, violent, promotes criminal insanity, is misogynistic, hateful, murderous, thieving and all the other crimes that appear in civilized nations law books, the same crimes are found in the qur’an as virtues for muslims.

  • Drew the Infidel

    The plight of the Washington Redskins is more of a case in point as to the left’s intentions to destroy the First Amendment by applying it selectively. If there is a law which is applied inconsistently then it is no longer a law but a suggestion. Also, anything that smacks of enjoyment, leisure, or other pleasure, such as the NFL, is to be taken down. How else to explain the antics of Colin Kaepernick who, by the way, does not have so much as a faint prospect for ever playing football again. To go from a starting job as a QB to a footnote in the news is like going from the penthouse to the outhouse.

    • Kook of the East

      I’m missing the point about Kaepernick.
      I doubt that his intention was to bring down the NFL. He just thought he could use it to spread his propaganda.
      Whole milk has a longer shelf life than a modern NFL QB.

      • Drew the Infidel

        His dragging his political views into a venue that amounts to a captive audience is an old Soviet stunt. He even went on a rant about white people (divisiveness) though he was adopted, nutured, and raised by a white couple. How’s that for gratitude?

  • joe1429

    Excellent ruling!

  • Bacchus

    Why isn’t the koran declared a book of terrorism since the koran specifically states “WE SHALL CAST TERROR INTO THE HEARTS OF THE UNBELIEVERS (thats ALL non moslems) surah 3:151?????

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