On January 5, 2017, Work Release Records, Inc. (WRR) filed an application to register CERTIFIED STREET NIGGAZ for baseball caps and T-shirts.
On January 18, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Matal v. Tam, a case that would decide whether it’s unconstitutional to prohibit registration of trademarks that include a disparaging word.
Meanwhile, back at the Trademark Office, on June 8, the examiner assigned to WRR’s application suspended the application because “a substantial composite of black people would find the use of the term NIGGA . . . to be disparaging . . ..”
On June 19, the Supreme Court ruled that it’s unconstitutional to refuse to register a trademark because it includes a disparaging term.
So, WRR’s application can move forward, right?
Not so fast.
On September 13, the examiner issued another suspension because NIGGAZ isn’t just disparaging, apparently, it’s also vulgar: “In fact, the term NIGGA is akin to profanity because newspapers will not print the term and people cannot say it on TV, like other vulgar terms.”
So, is WRR
fucked out of luck? Not yet.
Way back in November 2015, a federal appeals court heard oral argument on whether it’s unconstitutional to prohibit registration of trademarks that include a vulgar word. The appeals court had been waiting for the ruling in Tam before making its decision.
WRR is now waiting for yet another court to decide the fate of its application. I’m eagerly waiting with them with fingers crossed. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.