I understand that the U.S. federal government rejects trade name applications in cases where the requested trade name is deemed inappropriate. For example, obscenities and certain political terms might not be allowed.

Imagine two people who file to register trade names...

  1. Person #1 files to register a relatively unfamiliar name. It has an unsavory meaning, but the people who process the request think it's just some nonsense name made up on the spur of the moment and approve it.

  2. Person #2 files to register a name that really doesn't mean anything. It's approved. However, it later acquires a meaning with a negative connotation.

Both persons establish their businesses and start selling merchandise bearing their trade names. However, people later begin complaining that their trade names are vulgar, racist, etc.

Can the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office review trade names that it has already approved and reject them? Are you aware of any cases where this has actually happened?

If there are cases of this happening, it would be interesting to know if the people whose trade names were later rejected were somehow compensated.

  • The USPTO indeed tried to cancel an existing trademark in a prominent case, but withdrew following the case cited in George White's answer. – Nate Eldredge Sep 18 '19 at 1:01

Do you know that both "The Slants" for an Asian American Band and "Fuct" for a men's clothing line have been OKed as registered trademarks by the Supreme Court? I think this moots the premise of your question, at least in the U.S.

  • Hmmm...So my premise was wrong to begin with? I could have sworn I read that certain politically incorrect names are ineligible for registration as trade names. Perhaps I was mistaken. Let me wait to see if there are any other answers before I mark your answer as the correct one. – David Blomstrom Sep 18 '19 at 1:05
  • @davidblomstrom they used to be but fairly recent supreme court rulings invalidated the ban on offensive names under first amendment grounds. Read the links in the answer. – Andy Sep 18 '19 at 1:18
  • Got it. Better answer than I was expecting. ;) – David Blomstrom Sep 18 '19 at 1:20

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