3 Recent Free Speech Wins in Court: Free Tweets, Owning Words, and Offensive Trademarks
By The Daily Bell Staff - December 19, 2017

From politically correct lies to government enforced silencing, and even insane public opinion, free speech is under attack.

But sometimes, there is some good news coming out of the courts. Taking a case to the American court system is a bit like flipping a coin. Still, it is encouraging to see pro-free-speech rulings being handed down.

The Right to Free Tweets

Do Trump’s tweets make you feel sad? Are you a public figure who has felt the wrath of Trump’s twitter account? Has the President’s use of 140 characters negatively impacted your career or personal life?

Cry me a river. An appeals court ruled that Trump cannot be sued for the nasty things he says on Twitter.

The defamation suit by public-relations specialist Cheryl Jacobus was dismissed in January by New York state court Judge Barbara Jaffe, who said Trump’s “intemperate tweets” were protected opinion, even if they were intended to “belittle and demean.”

A five-judge appeals court panel in Manhattan on Tuesday upheld the ruling. It found that Trump’s statements about Jacobus were “too vague, subjective and lacking precise meaning” to be defamatory, and that a reasonable person would find them to be opinion and not fact.

There you have it. No matter how far you go in life, know that you can always call people dummys and losers on Twitter. It is your right as an American.

But seriously people need to calm down with litigation over what people say about them. Are they really so weak that words hurt them? Sad!

You Can’t Own a Word.

Should companies really be able to own a word, and prevent others from using it? For example, Microsoft is a made up company name, and it makes sense for them to own it. But windows already existed prior to the operating system. Facebook has even sued websites for using “book” in their name, like teachbook.

A Court of Appeals has ruled that the rap record label Empire Distribution cannot sue Fox for naming its show about the rap music industry Empire.

This seems to deviate from previous rulings which hold that if a company is in the same industry, or has a similar product, then this type of name would be infringement.

But in this case, the show was set in New York City, within the Empire State. The courts said because of this, the trademark was relevant, and did not seek to intentionally mislead customers.

Things would start to get pretty dicey if using every word in the English language carried the risk of intellectual property infringement.

It is understandable to ensure that potential customers don’t get confused, and are not misled by other companies with the same or similar names. But fraud and similarity are totally different. And there are ways to differentiate yourself without using the courts.

Offensive Trademarks Are Okay

An appeals court ruled that offensive and immoral trademarks are protected free speech.

This ruling was based on a decision earlier this year which allowed The Slants, an Asian American band, to trademark their name.

This case centered around a clothing company called Fuct that was originally denied a trademark because of its scandalous name.

But if the government is going to issue trademarks, they should not have the arbitrary authority to decide if something is too inappropriate to be given a trademark. That is what happened when the Redskins were stripped of their intellectual property protection. The logo and name could then be used freely by companies not affiliated with the football team.

Again, there are probably better ways to protect your business’s uniqueness than relying on the courts. But while trademark law protects some companies, it should protect them all. Otherwise, those arbitrarily denied trademarks are left at a disadvantage.

But putting the trademark debate aside, this is a good thing for free speech. Taken along with the freedom to tweet, the courts affirm that just because speech is distasteful or offensive does not mean it can be limited.

We still need to keep an eye on the “hate speech” and “fake news” efforts of the mainstream media. They want to convince you that it is more important to stop hurtful words from being uttered than to protect freedom of speech.

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