Oct. 4, 2016

How an 'Offensive Names' Case Before the Supreme Court Could Affect the Redskins Trademark

Christine Haight Farley () is a Professor of Law at . She teaches courses on Intellectual Property Law, Trademark Law, International and Comparative Trademark Law, International Intellectual Property Law, Design Protection Law and Art Law. Professor...

Christine Haight Farley (@Prof_Farley) is a Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law. She teaches courses on Intellectual Property Law, Trademark Law, International and Comparative Trademark Law, International Intellectual Property Law, Design Protection Law and Art Law. Professor Farley served as Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs from 2007 to 2011 and as Co-Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property from 2005 to 2009. She is the author of numerous articles on intellectual property law and a forthcoming casebook on international trademark law. Professor Farley has taught at law schools in France, India, Italy and Puerto Rico. She has given lectures on intellectual property law in more than twenty countries across every region of the world. Professor Farley frequently appears in the media as an IP expert and is regularly invited to speak at ABA, AIPLA and INTA conferences. She currently serves on an INTA Presidential Task Force on Brands and Innovation, and has recently been selected as a Fulbright Specialist for intellectual property law. Before teaching, Professor Farley was an associate specializing in intellectual property litigation with Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman in New York. She holds a B.A. (State University of New York at Binghamton), J.D. (State University of New York at Buffalo), LL.M. (Columbia University), and a J.S.D. (Columbia University).

In this episode, we discussed:

  • historical examples of offensive marks.
  • the First Amendment implications of The Lanham Act Section 2(a).
  • how U.S. trademark laws compare to international trademark laws in the context of offensive speech.


American University Washington College of Law

Christine Haight Farley, Registering Offense: Morality and Public Order in the U.S. Trademark Act, in Protecting and Promoting Diversity With Intellectual Property Law (Irene Calboli & Srividhya Ragavan, eds., Cambridge U. Press 2015)

Lee v. Tam via Scotusblog

Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs by Lauren Rivera


FBI Director James Comey doesn't want anyone to think his agency is comprised of “weasels”--his words not mine. Comey appeared at a hearing before a House Judiciary Committee panel last week to explain why presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was never charged during the investigation into a private server she used as Secretary of State. Comey said the agency hasn’t uncovered any additional evidence that would necessitate re-opening the investigation. Matt Zapotosky has more at the Washington Post.


John McKinnon at the Wall Street Journal reports The FCC has delayed a vote on proposed rules to overhaul the set-top box marketplace. FCC CommissionerRosenworcel, a Democrat, was the swing vote. The plan would require cable providers to make content available to set-top boxes that compete with the ones issued by cable companies. The proposed rules faced a firestorm of criticism from the cable industry and Hollywood who claimed, among other things, that the rules would exceed the Commission’s authority and violate copyright. The good news, as Harold Feld at Public Knowledge has noted, is that the proceeding is far from dead and still open for comment.


Several consumer groups are crying foul about WhatsApp’s recent announcement that it would begin sharing user data with its parent company, Facebook. WhatsApp has long held itself out as a secure and encrypted messaging service. Groups including the Center for Digital Democracy and Demand Progress, along with 15 other groups, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission last week asking the agency to investigate. Grant Gross has the story at Computer World.


Four Republican attorneys general from Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma,and Nevada filed lawsuits against the Obama administration for its plan to transfer oversight of the Internet’s domain systems from the U.S. to an international body. They’re alleging violations of the what they believe to be the U.S. property interest in the systems, that the transfer is a First Amendment violation, amd that it violates the Administrative Procedure Act. Ali Breland at The Hill has the full story.

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