On January 18, 2017, Archer & Greiner had the rare
distinction of appearing before the Supreme Court of the United
States. A team of three of our attorneys - Ronald D. Coleman, John C. Connell (argued), and Joel G. MacMull - represented Simon Shiao Tam
in his defense of the ruling of the Federal Circuit Court of
Appeals that the United States Patent and Trademark Office's
denial of Mr. Tam's trademark, "The Slants," under
the disparagement clause of §2(a) of the Lanham Act was
unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment. The Archer team
had enlisted the collaboration of Professors Stuart Banner and
Eugene Volokh of the UCLA Law School and its Supreme Court
Litigation Clinic in researching and drafting the Respondent's
brief and strategizing the argument. Professor Banner is the
Director of UCLA's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic and a legal
historian who has written about a wide range of topics in American
and British legal history; Professor Volokh is a nationally
renowned First Amendment scholar and the author of "The Volokh
Conspiracy", the First Amendment blog of the
Washington Post. We are grateful for their significant support and
This appeal was considered by many as one of the most important
matters before the Court this term, as well as one of the most
significant First Amendment cases in many years. Given the novelty
of the issues involved in this appeal, the Court subjected both
parties to vigorous questioning. A report of the argument may be
found at SCOTUSblog Case Updates http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/01/argument-analysis-justices-skeptical-federal-bar-disparaging-trademarks/.
A decision is expected by June 30. The ruling will have a direct
bearing on a case involving the Washington Redskins football team
currently on appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit. In July 2015, a federal judge in Virginia
upheld the government's cancellation of the NFL team's
trademarks on grounds the term "Redskin" was disparaging
to Native Americans at the time the marks were registered decades
Archer & Greiner congratulates Ron, John, and Joel and the
truly historic impact this case will have on both First Amendment
jurisprudence and trademark law in this country going forward.
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