U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number


2016 Term

Oral Argument Date

January 18, 2017


Questions Presented

Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), provides that no trademark shall be refused registration on account of its nature unless, inter alia, it “[c]onsists of … matter which may disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”  The question presented is as follows: Whether the disparagement provision in 15 U.S.C. 1052(a) is facially invalid under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

Case Updates


June 19, 2017

Click here to view the opinion.

U.S. Chamber urges Supreme Court to strike down Lanham Act’s “anti-disparagement” provision limiting free speech in trademarking

December 16, 2016

The U.S. Chamber filed an amicus brief amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to find unconstitutional the Lanham Act’s “anti-disparagement” provision, which allows the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) to refuse to register a trademark if, in the office’s opinion, the mark is disparaging or offensive. The brief argued that the PTO impermissibly engages in viewpoint-based discrimination against speech it deems offensive. In addition, the brief challenged the government’s contention that the provision is a permissible regulation of commercial speech, as commercial speech is a narrow category limited to speech proposing “no more” than a commercial transaction—a definition inapplicable here.

Eugene Scalia, Amir C. Tayrani, and Michael R. Huston of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP served as co-counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.

Case Documents