Wednesday, May 14, 2014

AFDI/SIOA Trademark Ruling "Unconstitutional"

Wall Street Journal on SIOA Trademark Ruling: "Pamela Geller has stirred controversy across the globe...."

The USPTO rejected AFDI’s trademark application
I wanted to keep you updated on today's ruling on one of our many legal battles against the government in the battle for free speech.
Read the Wall Street Journal here.
The USPTO rejected AFDI’s trademark application based on the following analysis:

(1) “Islamisation” means converting to Islam or “to make Islamic;” and (2), “Stop” would be understood to mean that “action must be taken to cease, or put an end to, converting or making people in America conform to Islam.” Thus, the trademark, according to the “Office Action” ruling, disparaged Muslims and linked them to terrorism. (AFLC)
The Washington Post today: "The court concludes that “Stop the Islamization of America” mark, as used by its promoters, is likely to be understood as “disparaging to a substantial composite” of Muslims, whether “Islamization” refers to conversion to Islam or to “a political movement to replace man-made laws with the religious laws of Islam.”
The Judge was hostile towards us from the very first (more on the appeal here). David Yerushalmi's oral arguments (here.)
Just minutes after the ruling down against us, Reuters contacted me. It's interesting how closely they watch our work -- even these somewhat little known, obscure cases.

Reuters: "What reaction do you all have to the court ruling today?"
Here was my full response.
Geller: "I am not surprised by today's ruling. I expected it. This is a complete whitewash and we knew we would be up against the PC bias in the court. This is clear ongoing evidence of how the federal government and especially the courts, bend over backwards to kowtow and placate Muslim sensitivities. But why turn a blind eye? Because they are afraid of the response. Not from me, of course. The TTAB is not protecting Muslims from our 'islamophobia' and/or 'bigotry' (because there is none). No, they are afraid of the response from Islamic supremacists and that is the problem."
My tentative view is that the general exclusion of marks that disparage persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols should be seen as unconstitutional.

"Appeals Court Says ‘Islamization’ Trademark is Too Offensive," Jacob Gershman, Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2014

A federal appeals court has rejected a controversial blogger’s attempt to trademark the name of a group she founded called “Stop Islamization of America,” ruling that the name is too offensive to Muslims to qualify for protection.
Pamela Geller has stirred controversy across the globe with her portrayal of Islam as a religion hijacked by violent radicals bent on imposing Islamic rule over America. She’s probably most identified as a leader of protests in 2010 against the construction of a mosque near the ground zero site in New York.
The case decided Tuesday was yet another dispute pitting Ms. Geller against a government agency making claims that her zealous critique of political Islam crosses the line into hate speech.
The case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit concerned a federal law allowing the government to refuse to register a trademark that disparages a “substantial composite” of a group.
A three-judge panel ruled that her group “Stop Islamization of America” isn’t eligible for a federal trademark because it said the name suggests an association between “peaceful political Islamization” and terrorism that many Muslims would find offensive.
It affirmed an earlier ruling by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which hears and decides trademark disputes.
Ms. Geller isn’t the first trademark applicant to push the envelope and hit a brick wall. In previous cases, the trademark board objected to an applicant who wanted to register “Khoran” as a trademark for wine. It also turned down an attempt by Heeb Magazine, a publication marketed to young urban Jews, to register “Heeb” for clothing and entertainment services.
The Federal Circuit, in the Tuesday decision, gave special attention to how the term Islamization was specifically used by Ms. Geller and her supporters.
The court cited articles posted on her website that it said opposed the construction of mosques in the U.S. The court also highlighted another ad campaign she sponsored in Detroit that offered resources to Muslims considering abandoning their faith.
Her lawyer, David Yerushalmi, said the trademark board distorted her positions, telling the court that his client merely opposes “Islamist Muslim Brotherhood groups” that “use mosque-building as a political tool to accomplish Islamization.” Ms. Geller believes 80% of mosques in the country are controlled by radicals.
Mr. Yerushalmi told Law Blog that he thought the court “simply ignored the facts and the record. . . in order to bend over backwards to protect what the court perceived to be Muslim sensitivities.”
A spokesman for the U.S. trademark office declined to comment.

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