Old-school skate brand FUCT’s long-running trademark case has gone to the US Supreme Court this week, reports NPR.
The LA label, founded in 1990 by Eric Brunetti, is arguing that the US Patent and Trademark Office has acted unconstitutionally by refusing to grant the brand trademark protection on the basis that the word “FUCT” would violate a federal statute barring trademark protection for “immoral,” “shocking,” “offensive,” and “scandalous” words.
Brunetti first attempted to trademark FUCT in 2011, only to be denied. He appealed and, in 2017, caught a break after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Simon Tam’s bid to trademark the name of his band, The Slants, which had been rejected on the basis it was a “disparaging” term against Asians and people of Asian descent.
The rejection of FUCT’s application is based on the fact it’s derived from the word “fuck,” or as the Department of Justice’s Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart put it, “the equivalent of the past participle form of the paradigmatic profane word in our culture.”
Brunetti claims the refusal constitutes a violation of his First Amendment rights to free speech and is affecting his business. “Go to eBay and you’ll see a lot of [FUCT] counterfeits, or go to Amazon and you’ll see lots of counterfeits,” Brunetti said. Without trademark protection, Brunetti is unable to tackle counterfeit FUCT goods.
Although FUCT hasn’t been granted trademarked status, “FCUK” (French Connection UK) and “FUBAR” (based on the military acronym for “fucked up beyond all repair”) have, while “crap” was registered in a trademarked name 70 times. “Shit,” however, has been denied repeatedly.
A decision in the case is expected by summer.