CAFC Affirms TTAB's "STOP THE ISLAMISATION OF AMERICA" Disparagement Decision
The CAFC affirmed the TTAB's decision upholding a Section 2(a) refusal to register the mark STOP THE ISLAMISATION OF AMERICA for "providing information regarding understanding and preventing terrorism," finding the mark to be disparaging to Muslims in the United States. [TTABlogged here] The appellate court agreed with the Board that the mark is disparaging to a substantial composite of Muslims because, whether considering the religious or the political meaning of "Islamisation," the mark associates Muslims with violence and terrorism. In re Pamela Geller and Robert B. Spencer, 110 USPQ2d 1867 (Fed. Cir. 2014) [precedential]. [oral argument (mp3) here].
The Board determined that the mark may be disparaging to American Muslims under both meanings of “Islamisation:” the religious meaning and the political meaning. In both cases, the mark, when used with the recited services, associates Islamisation with violence and terrorism.
Appellants conceded at oral argument that the subject mark is disparaging under a religious meaning of Islamisation. But they maintained that the Board “ignore[d] the overwhelming evidence in the record that the term ‘Islamisation’ has only been used in the public domain to refer to a political and military process replacing civilian laws with Islamic religious law.” They contended that the Board improperly relied “on arbitrary and anecdotal evidence” in determining the meaning of the mark.
The CAFC ruled that Appellants were incorrect in asserting that the political meaning was the only meaning of "Islamisation." In any case, the CAFC ruled that substantial evidence supported the Board’s finding that the subject mark is also disparaging in the context of the political meaning of Islamisation.
And so the CAFC affirmed the Board's decision.
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Text Copyright John L. Welch 2014.