Censorship in the Patent and Trademark Office

The Supreme Court has heard the oral arguments for Iancu v Brunetti, a case I wrote about a bit ago.  Hadley Arkes’ op-ed in The Wall Street Journal shed additional light on the matter, which centers on whether Iancu’s business can trademark the name of his business, Friends U Can’t Trust, with its acronym stand-in.

Certain words are fixed in the language with the moral functions of “commending” and “condemning,” and some of them have a special edge….

You bet.

However, confusing F**T with the specially edged F**K can only be done by those with potty-mouthed minds.  Ordinary people, people with the barest modicum of decorum, are not so easily misled, whether they simply choose not to see the worst in everything they encounter, or they’re mildly amused by the obvious jape.

Chief Justice John Roberts did raise a significant point:

…advertisements will be posted in malls where children can see them. Mr Brunetti is appealing to rebellious young men, “but that’s not the only audience he reaches….”

However, this isn’t the risk that Roberts thought he saw.  This is an excellent opportunity to teach those children how to recognize critical differences and to not be misled by artificial similarities.  And to teach them how not to be easily offended or cavalierly crude.

Putting potty-mouthed minds into the PTO to effect government censorship according to their base criteria should be unacceptable.

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