TMEP 1203: Refusal on Basis of Immoral or Scandalous Matter; Deceptive Matter; Matter which May Falsely Suggest a Connection
October 2017 Edition of the TMEP
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1203 Refusal on Basis of Immoral or Scandalous Matter; Deceptive Matter; Matter which May Falsely Suggest a Connection
15 U.S.C. §1052 (Extract)
No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it–
- (a) Consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute; or a geographical indication which, when used on or in connection with wines or spirits, identifies a place other than the origin of the goods and is first used on or in connection with wines or spirits by the applicant on or after one year after the date on which the WTO Agreement (as defined in section 2(9) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act) enters into force with respect to the United States.
The provisions of 15 U.S.C. §1052(a) apply to both the Principal Register and the Supplemental Register. Note, however, that in Matal v. Tam, 582 U.S. ___ (2017), the Supreme Court of the United States held that the disparagement provision of 15 U.S.C §1052(a) violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Accordingly, that a mark may "disparage... or bring... into contempt, or disrepute" is no longer a valid ground on which to refuse registration or cancel a registration.