Erik Brunetti‘s Los Angeles clothing brand FUCT has won its Supreme Court case which now allows for the trademark of the brand name. The court previously ruled against the trademark because the name, FUCT, could be viewed as “scandalous” or “immoral.”
“The clothing line is pronounced as four letters, one after the other: F-U-C-T. But you might read it differently and, if so, you would hardly be alone,” said Justice Elena Kagan, before adding, “The most fundamental principle of free speech law is that the government can’t penalize or disfavor or discriminate against expression based on the ideas or viewpoints it conveys.”
While the case centers around Brunetti’s FUCT trademark, it is just as much about his skeptical viewpoint of authoritative figures in government and society, which he deems is justified. Both liberal and conservative justices decided today that the broader principle at stake is the freedom to express one’s viewpoint even if it is considered to be immoral by some.
FUCT isn’t the only company benefiting from today’s Supreme Court ruling. Other brand names previously deemed “scandalous” have also been awarded trademark rights. NBC News points out that the trademark office considers a name to be “scandalous” if it is “shocking to the sense of truth, decency, or propriety” or “disgraceful, offensive, disreputable.”
Erik Brunetti launched FUCT in 1991 with his then-business-partner, pro skateboarder Natas Kaupas. He applied for a trademark for the brand name in 2011, before ultimately being denied. Brunetti then went on to sue the US Patent and Trademark Office. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Brunetti and FUCT today in a six-to-three vote. You can read the full court document here.