CAFC Hears Oral Arguments in Houston and District of Columbia Section 2(b) Appeals
On May 8, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard oral argument in two Section 2(b) cases. In the first, In re City of Houston, 101 USPQ2d 1534 (TTAB 2012) [precedential], District of Columbia, the Board affirmed a Section 2(b) refusal to register the official seal of the City of Houston for various municipal services. In the second, In re The Government of the District of Columbia, 101 USPQ2d 1588 (TTAB 2012) [precedential], the Board affirmed a refusal to register the official seal of the District of Columbia for various goods, including clocks, cufflinks, memo pads, pens and pencils, cups and mugs, and various clothing items.
Section 2(b) prohibits registration of any mark that "consists of or comprises the flag or coat of arms or other insignia of the United States, or of any State or municipality, or of any foreign nation, or any simulation thereof."
The Board's decisions were TTABlogged here. The Houston oral argument is found here. The District of Columbia argument is here.
TTABlog note: Comments by the court during oral argument, such as "the legislation is plain on its face," and "why aren't you on Capitol Hill seeking to change the law?," and "where does the Paris Convention require that the United States register governmental insignia?," suggest that these two appellants are not likely to succeed on their respective appeals.
It would not be surprising if the CAFC affirmed the Board's decisions under the court's Rule 36.
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2013.