THE SLANTS trademark appeal: The other side

The Slants 2I posted the en banc Federal Circuit brief of Simon Tam for the Slants, and those of the amici curiae in his support shortly after they were filed.

Well, of course there’s another side to this, and it has been heard.  Here is the brief of the PTO seeking affirmance.  Then came the brief of amicus curiae, and in particular friends of the PTO, the South Asian Bar Association; and here is the submission of Richard L. Stanley.

Amanda Blackhorse — adversary of the Redskins in that litigation — has also filed in support of the PTO, which makes sense, considering that the Redskins (i.e., the NFL) filed a brief in support of The Slants.  As soon as the clerk-approved brief is released for publication, I will add that too.  Here’s the Blackhorse amicus brief.

Wait — Richard L. Stanley?  Who?  Unlike some people, Richard is not a big Internet personality.  No website, no blog.  Richard doesn’t talk the talk but, as set out in this article (and, I assume, in his brief; I haven’t read it yet) he does walk the walk.

Let Richard explain himself here, though, as he does in the first section of the filing.  It’s at least as interesting as anything in any of these submissions:

INTEREST OF AMICUS CURIAE

This brief is filed in support of Appellee because the arguments herein would require that the question before the Court-whether the bar on registration of disparaging marks in 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a) violates the First Amendment-be answered in the negative. Apart from contributing to the analysis on that important question, Amicus Curiae has no interest in this particular case, and takes no position on any other factual or legal assertion of either party.

For the first and likely only time in my career, a portion of one of my briefs is written in the first person. I am an appellate attorney whose practice focuses on cases within this Court’s jurisdiction, primarily those arising under the patent laws. I have written numerous briefs for this Court and other appellate courts, including amicus briefs for private parties and bar organizations. I have never filed an amicus brief in my own name, and never expected to do so.

As a long-time sports fan, I was aware of the controversies surrounding trademarks of certain teams like the Washington Redskins, but first learned of this case from the panel opinion. After en bane review was granted, I benefited from an in-depth discussion of the case as a member of the AIPLA’s Amicus Committee. Subsequently, I continued my own research. During a late June trip to California, my in-flight reading materials were the initial en banc briefs, primarily urging that Section 2(a) was unconstitutional.

My California trip included a visit with my parents, during which I recounted my investigations of this case to my father. After serving 25 years as a U.S. Naval officer, my father went to law school, later serving as a prosecutor, passing the patent bar, and developing his own law practice. Now 86 years old, he is retired as a practicing lawyer, but still engaged in monitoring and opining upon current events affecting law and politics (and sports).

Breaking our decades-old mutual agreement not to debate controversial subjects around my mother, this case prompted several spirited discussions. Afterwards, my father urged me to write down my thoughts, if not for a client or myself, then for him. Upon reflection, I realized that this case presented a rare opportunity to write something from a personal perspective that would be mostly consistent with the views of my father.

Upon my return, I prepared this brief but lacked enough time for the critical review needed to get my father’s consent to file in his name. So, I opted to file it under mine. Regardless of his influence and encouragement, sole responsibility for its contents is mine. The views herein are mine as of its filing and should not be attributed to any past, existing, or future client. While the brief was written in honor of my father, it is submitted as a long-time “friend of the court.”

This is sure getting interesting.

Ron Coleman

I write this blog.