TMEP 1203.03(b): Disparagement, Bringing into Contempt, and Bringing into Disrepute

This is the October 2015 Edition of the TMEP

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1203.03(b)    Disparagement, Bringing into Contempt, and Bringing into Disrepute

Section 2(a) prohibits the registration of a mark that consists of or comprises matter that may disparage, or bring into contempt or disrepute, persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols. See TMEP §1203.03(a)(i) regarding persons, TMEP §1203.03(a)(ii) regarding institutions, and TMEP §1203.03(a)(iii) regarding national symbols.

In sustaining an opposition on this ground, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board stated as follows:

Disparagement is essentially a violation of one’s right of privacy – the right to be “let alone” from contempt or ridicule. See, Carson v. Here’s Johnny Portable Toilets, Inc., 698 F.2d 831, 218 USPQ 1 (6th Cir. 1983). It has been defined as the publication of a statement which the publisher intends to be understood, or which the recipient reasonably should understand, as tending “to cast doubt upon the quality of another’s land, chattels, or intangible things.” Restatement (Second) of Torts §629 (1977).

Greyhound Corp. v. Both Worlds Inc., 6 USPQ2d 1635, 1639 (TTAB 1988).