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Congresswoman Clarke Urges End to Disparaging Trademarks

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement about the amicus brief she submitted urging the Supreme Court in In re Tam to hold that the United States Patent and Trademark Office could refuse to register trademarks that disparage people based on their race, gender, religion, or ethnicity.

“The granting of a trademark by the government of the United States creates a form of intellectual property for the benefit of its owner. By preventing confusion in the market, trademarks support the free exchange of products and services. But the government does not have any duty to offer the many benefits of a trademark to names and images that demean people based on their race, gender, religion, or ethnicity. Indeed, to the contrary, we should actively discourage the re-purposing of negative stereotypes to generate a profit, as with the professional football team based in the Washington, D.C. area. For many years, disparaging trademarks have been a perpetual insult – to African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and many other groups – with the sanction of the federal government. That sanction should not continue. I urge the Supreme Court to recognize that disparaging trademarks are undeserving of any benefit from the Patent and Trademark Office.”

The brief was signed by twenty-four other members of the House of Representatives and a member of the Senate.

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, the Committee on Ethics and the Committee on Small Business in the House of Representatives, proudly represents Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, Park Slope, Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.