Ross: Let’s trademark all the swear words
The Supreme Court has spoken: In a 6-3 decision — and again defying the court’s conservative image — justices have decided that the First Amendment allows a company to trademark a scandalous company name.
In this case, it’s a clothing designer whose full name is “Friends-U-Can’t-Trust,” but goes by the initials F-U-C-T.
The trademark office had originally turned them down, saying that although the company only uses its initials, when read aloud, those initials sounds exactly like the past tense of the F-word. It’s also worth noting that even though I can’t say the word on-air, it’s banned by the FCC, whose own initials, if read aloud, would sound like the present tense of the F-word.
The court’s opinion is full of fairly desperate attempts to define what’s “scandalous” as opposed to merely “shocking” or “immoral,” including a comment from Justice Breyer about how these words “excite the lower-brain circuitry.” But the bottom line is that F-U-C-T, and every other scandalous, vulgar, and obscene-sounding word can now be trademarked!
I, for one, hope that’s exactly what happens, and that the owners of these trademarks then go on to sue anyone who uses words that sound like their brand names, thereby flipping this verdict on its head. Instead of a further erosion of civility, the FCC decency rules that I have lived under for all these years will finally be imposed on the rest of you!