Appeals Court Affirms Denial of Trademark Protection for Mark Disparaging to Muslims

Appeals Court Affirms Denial of Trademark Protection for Mark Disparaging to Muslims

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Written by Don Byrd
Some trademark proposals are simply too insulting to a group of people to be worthy of legal protection. The Trademark Act bars protection for a mark that contains”matter which may disparage” a group of persons. In an interesting decision yesterday, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the Trademark Appeals Board that an application to trademark the phrase “Stop the Islamisation of America” should fail for just that reason.

From the opinion:

[T]he Board found the mark’s admonition to “STOP” Islamisation in America “sets a negative tone and signals that Islamization is undesirable and is something that must be brought to an end in America.” Moreover, it determined that using the mark in connection with preventing terrorism “creates a direct association of Islam and its followers with terrorism.” The Board explained that “the majority of Muslims are not terrorists and are offended by being associated as such.”

The Board properly found that associating peaceful political Islamisation with terrorism would be disparaging to a substantial composite of American Muslims.