The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the TTAB’s refusal to register the mark STOP THE ISLAMISATION OF AMERICA due to potential disparagement of a substantial group of Muslim Americans.
The Appellants filed an application to register STOP THE ISLAMISATION OF AMERICA for use in connection with providing information about preventing terrorism. The PTO refused the application on the grounds that it may disparageor injure American Muslims. The Board affirmed refusal of the application after considering the religious and political meanings of “Islamisation” and whether those meanings may be disparaging. The Board found that under the religious meaning, the mark was disparaging because the admonition to stop Islamisation (conversion to Islam) suggests that conversion is a negative activity. Further, under the political meaning, the mark was disparaging because it associates the replacement of secular law with Islamic law (Islamisation) as requiring violence or terrorism.
In an appeal to the Federal Circuit, the Appellants argued there was no substantial evidence to support the Board’s findings, and that the political definition of Islamisation was the sole likely meaning of the mark.
The Federal Circuit found that there was substantial evidence to support the Board’s ruling that “Islamisation” has both religious and political meanings. The Board’s ruling was based on dictionaries, essays and comments posted on Appellants’ website, Congressional testimony, academic course materials and articles submitted by Appellants.
The Appellants conceded to the court that the mark is disparaging under the religious meaning. The Federal Circuit also affirmed the Board’s finding that the mark is disparaging under the political meaning because there was nothing in the materials submitted to the Board that suggested that Islamisation requires violence or terrorism.
In Re Pamela Geller and Robert B. Spencer (2013-1412, Serial No. 77940879, May 13, 2014, precedential), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit