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IP LitigationFederal Circuit

No error in refusing to register mark with disparaging religious and political implications

May 14, 2014

IP LitigationFederal Circuit

No error in refusing to register mark with disparaging religious and political implications

May 14, 2014

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Federal Circuit affirms refusal to register the mark STOP THE ISLAMISATION OF AMERICA in connection with services of “understanding and preventing terrorism” as disparaging under § 2(a) of the Trademark Act.

The Federal Circuit applied the two-prong legal analysis for a § 2(a) refusal based on disparagement that the TTAB adopted in In re Lebanese Arak Corp. Under the first prong, the TTAB did not err in finding that the term “Islamisation” has two likely meanings: one political (i.e., “a sectarianization of a political society through efforts to make it subject to Islamic law”), and one religious (i.e., “the conversion or conformance to Islam”). The Federal Circuit rejected Ms. Geller’s argument that the political definition of the term was its sole likely meaning.

Under the second prong, the TTAB did not err in finding Ms. Geller’s mark disparaging under the political meaning of “Islamisation.” That meaning mandated neither violence nor terrorism, yet the mark expressly drew a connection to “preventing terrorism.” The TTAB properly found that such an association would be disparaging to a substantial composite of American Muslims. Ms. Geller conceded that the mark was disparaging under a religious meaning of “Islamisation.”

 

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