Free Speech

Federal Circuit holds that first amendment protects right to use disparaging trademarks

In In re Tam, 808 F.3d 1321 (Fed. Cir. 2015), the Federal Circuit held the government could not withhold trademark registration because the name was disparaging. In re Tam involved a band called The Slants and the Patent and Trademark Office had determined that the name represented a racial slur that was disparaging to people of Asian descent and thus could not be registered as a...

Read more about Federal Circuit holds that first amendment protects right to use disparaging trademarks

Municipalities cannot regulate political content of signs

In the 2015 case of Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 135 S.Ct. 2218 (2015), the Court struck down a local ordinance that banned “ideological signs” that “communicat[e] a message or ideas.” The ordinance also limited “political signs” to election season and limited the times when plaintiff church was allowed to post “directional signs” bearing the name of the church and the time and location of the next service. The Court...

Read more about Municipalities cannot regulate political content of signs

New Jersey Supreme Court confirms state constitution's grant of free speech rights to enable a coop owner to disseminate written information to co-owners

While the US Constitution's free speech provisions in the first amendment apply only to state action, both California and New Jersey have interpreted their state constitutions to grant individuals free speech rights in some cases in relation to private parties. In both states, citizens have the right to distribute leaflets in shopping centers. In Dublirer v. 2000 Linwood Avenue Owners, Inc., 2014 WL 6777311 (N.J. 2014), a resident wanted to run for a seat on the Board...

Read more about New Jersey Supreme Court confirms state constitution's grant of free speech rights to enable a coop owner to disseminate written information to co-owners