Can the government police speech it thinks is offensive, even when members of the group the government seeks to protect disclaim any offense? Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act allows the government to deny trademark registration to "disparaging" speech. On Wednesday, January 18, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Lee v. Tam, a case challenging the constitutionality of this statute.
In Lee, an Asian-American rock band called “The Slants” was denied trademark registration after the Patent and Trademark Office found the trademark disparaging to Asians. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the decision. But the en banc Federal Circuit—without being asked—decided to vacate that decision and consider whether § 2(a) violates the First Amendment. The full Federal Circuit ultimately reversed the panel decision. The federal government then asked the Supreme Court to weigh in.
Is the Court likely to affirm the Federal Circuit decision striking down the disparagement clause as violative of the First Amendment? And what will be the implications if it does? Megan Brown and Dwayne Sam of Wiley Rein LLP attended the oral arguments and offered their impressions and predictions during this Courthouse Steps Teleforum conference call.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court upheld the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the respondent. The respondent, Cori Rigsby, violated the seal requirement of the False Claims Act (FCA) by disclosing her complaint against State Farm, regarding allegedly fraudulent actions taken post-Katrina, before the defendant was served. State Farm argued that the case should have been immediately dismissed due to the procedural violation. The question at hand was whether a claim made under the FCA should be dismissed because the complaining party violated the seal requirement.
Mr. Lawrence Ebner, founder of Capital Appellate Advocacy, author of multiple pieces on the case, and Counsel of Record on the DRI Amicus Brief in support of the petitioner, joined us to discuss the decision and its implications for the future.
Mr. Lawrence Ebner,Founder, Capital Appellate Advocacy
The Federalist Society will host a one hour Teleforum to discuss the recent Supreme Court decision in Samsung v. Apple--a rare Supreme Court design patent case regarding the shape of the face and grid of icons in Apple's iPhones. Trevor Copeland of Brinks Gilson & Lione, Austin and Art Gollwitzer of Michael Best, Chicago will engage over the specific statutory and policy issues in the decision. Prof. Ryan Holte of SIU School of Law will moderate.
Mr. Trevor Copeland,Shareholder, Brinks Gilson & Lione
Mr. Art Gollwitzer, Partner, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
Moderator: Prof. Ryan Holte,Assistant Professor of Law, SIU School of Law
In recent years, the Supreme Court appears to have taken a greater interest in "business" issues. Does this reflect a change in the Court's orientation, or is it the natural outcome of the appellate process? Is the Court "pro-business"? If so, in what ways do the Court's decisions support business interests and what does that mean for the law and the American public?Business and the Roberts Court provides the first critical analysis of the Court's business-related jurisprudence. Author and Editor Jonathan Adler joined us along with two chapter authors, Brian Fitzpatrick and Richard Lazarus, to discuss their contributions to this important volume.
Prof. Jonathan H. Adler, Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law; Director, Center for Business Law and Regulation, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Prof. Brian T. Fitzpatrick ,Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School
Prof. Richard J. Lazarus,Howard and Katherine Aibel Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Credit-card companies charge a transaction fee, and merchants often pass that cost onto consumers by raising prices across the board. Some merchants, however, would like to charge more only to credit customers. Ten states prohibit merchants from charging such "swipe fees," and the states argue that this is classic economic regulation. The merchants counter that the states permit them to offer a cash discount equivalent in value to a credit surcharge, and therefore claim that the swipe-fee bans merely prohibit truthful speech, in violation of the First Amendment. The Second and Fifth Circuits have sided with the states, but the Eleventh Circuit struck down Florida's law on First Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court heard argument on Tuesday, January 10 in the case from New York, Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman.
Mr. Jesse Panuccio, a partner and appellate lawyer at Foley & Lardner LLP, joined us to discuss the argument and the case. He is counsel of record on an amicus brief filed in support of the merchants' position and on behalf of a group of state-based, free-market think tanks.