The Supreme Court plans to hear Lee v. Tam in the new fall session. Lee v. Tam is one of several petitions accepted from the Federal Circuit, along with another high-profile case, Apple v. Samsung. Both these cases are slated for the October term, which begins tomorrow.
The news about Lee v. Tam has shocked some media outlets, but perhaps it shouldn’t have. Lee v. Tam is a First Amendment case concerning specific language in Federal law that prohibits trademark protection for language considered immoral or disparaging. This case is expected to set a precedent that could impact a similar case concerning the Washington Redskins football organization. Our FantasySCOTUS crowd will want to watch the developments from this one.
We are plunging ahead with only 8 Justices. While it is tempting to say the Court could be setting itself up for failure, it is far more likely that this petition was granted precisely because the 8 remaining Justices do not anticipate a 4-4 gridlock. Like many other cases on the October schedule, this case has a certain momentum to it. The petitioner, Michelle Lee, is the director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. She sought to have the name of Simon Tam’s band, “The Slants”, rejected for a trademark claim on the basis of the term’s perceived odium, but the Federal Circuit Court rejected this claim, stating that to deny the trademark would be a violation of the First Amendment.
In conclusion, it seems likely that the Supreme Court will uphold the original Federal Appeals Court decision. This may establish a trend going forward. Join the Crowd to keep an eye on what promises to be an exciting Supreme Court session this fall.