On January 18, 2017, Archer & Greiner had the rare distinction of appearing before the Supreme Court of the United States. A team of three of our attorneys – Ronald D. Coleman, John C. Connell (argued), and Joel G. MacMull – represented Simon Shiao Tam in his defense of the ruling of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals that the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s denial of Mr. Tam’s trademark, “The Slants,” under the disparagement clause of §2(a) of the Lanham Act was unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment. The Archer team had enlisted the collaboration of Professors Stuart Banner and Eugene Volokh of the UCLA Law School and its Supreme Court Litigation Clinic in researching and drafting the Respondent’s brief and strategizing the argument. Professor Banner is the Director of UCLA’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic and a legal historian who has written about a wide range of topics in American and British legal history; Professor Volokh is a nationally renowned First Amendment scholar and the author of “The Volokh Conspiracy“, the First Amendment blog of the Washington Post. We are grateful for their significant support and contribution.
This appeal was considered by many as one of the most important matters before the Court this term, as well as one of the most significant First Amendment cases in many years. Given the novelty of the issues involved in this appeal, the Court subjected both parties to vigorous questioning. A report of the argument may be found at SCOTUSblog Case Updates <http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/01/argument-analysis-justices-skeptical-federal-bar-disparaging-trademarks/>. A decision is expected by June 30. The ruling will have a direct bearing on a case involving the Washington Redskins football team currently on appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In July 2015, a federal judge in Virginia upheld the government’s cancellation of the NFL team’s trademarks on grounds the term “Redskin” was disparaging to Native Americans at the time the marks were registered decades earlier.
Archer & Greiner congratulates Ron, John, and Joel and the truly historic impact this case will have on both First Amendment jurisprudence and trademark law in this country going forward.
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