Statue of Liberty with Silenced Pistol Not ‘Shocking, Offensive and Disparaging’

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has overturned an attorney’s refusal to register a Statue of Liberty mark for silencer company Advanced Armament Corp. Law Shield supports the Appeals Board’s reversal of this decision.

In June 2009, Advanced Armament Corp., LLC sought registration of a mark for “silencers for firearms” that depicted “the upper torso of the Statue of Liberty holding a pistol with a silencer overhead in place of the torch…” According to the decision, the first use of the mark in commerce was March 31, 2008.

Trademark Examining Attorney Giselle M. Agosto-Hincapie concluded that the mark was “scandalous” and “disparag[ing],” thus violating Federal trademark law that people can’t register trademarks that contain “immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter” or that “may disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”

AAC appealed. Then on May 15, 2013, the examining attorney submitted what she deemed “new and relevant evidence that was not previously available,” which included cites from anti-gun sources such as Mother Jones, Huffington Post, and American Progress.

The examining attorney argued that the combination of the Statue of Liberty plus a silencer in place of its torch, plus a banner displaying the word SILENCERS is shocking, offensive and disparaging and should thus be refused registration.

Administrative Trademark Judges Holtzman, Taylor, and Wellington disagreed and ruled, “The refusal to register is reversed.”

And in the decision, they noted, “In this regard, we note that the mark does not depict the Statue of Liberty in a threatening pose or in any manner suggestive of criminal activity. Indeed, it may be viewed by many as suggestive of, and consistent with, the right to bear arms that is enshrined in the Constitution. The wording MADE IN THE USA, appearing below the statue, would seem to reinforce such a view.

“This leads us to the conclusion that it would be prudent, under the circumstances, to permit the mark to proceed to publication and, if a person, entity, or group “find[s] the mark to be scandalous …, an opposition proceeding can be brought and a more complete record can be established.”

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