FUCT Clothing Brand Challenges Supreme Court for “Offensive” Trademark Denial

We know what word they want to say, and they found a creative way of spelling it. Clothing company FUCT has taken its case all the way to the nation’s highest court over the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s refusal to grant it trademark protection over its brand name.

Fuct Clothing
Damian Dovarganes, AP via Fark

Supreme Court Justice’s all minded their “P’s and Q’s” as they carefully tiptoed around the F-word in question without actually saying it.

Trademark denial is allowing pirates to counterfeit brand

The FUCT clothing line has been operating since 1990, and the popular brand is seen competitors selling counterfeit goods, particularly on eBay and Amazon, robbing the company of its profits, while not being able to use or enforce the US government trademark protection that other brands would.

Because of this, the company does not have the legal foothold go after the counterfeiters.

Trademark office can deny certain words

Federal statutes allow for the denial of a trademark for words that are considered “offensive,” “immoral,” “scandalous,” or “shocking.”

Company may have an angle

While doing verbal gymnastics not to say the F-word, the Supreme Court justices did note that the granting of some trademarks, particularly the point that some get approved while others don’t, seems to be arbitrary.

“There are shocking numbers of ones granted and ones refused” said Justice Neil Gorsuch, that “do look remarkably similar.”

While not saying the words out loud, examples such as the trademark office refusing to register “FUK!T” while allowing the already registered “PHUKIT.” Another example is the approval of “FCUK” and that of “FUBAR,” which is a well-known brand.

Gorsuch suggested such cases were as arbitrary as the “flip of a coin.”

Do people today find the term offensive?

The Supreme Court also considered the intended audience.

“Do 20-year-olds generally find “FUCT” to be shocking or scandalous?” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg inquired.

“Probably not,” conceded Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart.

The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision on the case sometime this summer.