Since 2015, Seattle-based all-female rock band Thunderpussy have fought for the right to own their name. Now, thanks in part to two recent Supreme Court rulings, the group can finally rest easy.
On Thursday (April 9), the band announced that they had officially been granted a trademark for the name Thunderpussy. Over the course of the last few years, the band been repeatedly denied their trademark request by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, citing The Lanham Act of 1946, which prohibited “immoral or scandalous” language from being trademarked.
However, the band’s subsequent appeal was suspended when the Supreme Court began hearing two different cases challenging The Lanham Act. The first came with Matal v. Tam, where The Slants’ frontman Simon Tam sued the U.S, Trademark Office for denying the band’s trademark application for their name under the pretense of “disparagement” of the Asian community. Tam argued that the band was reappropriating a slur and won his case, with the Supreme Court unanimously deciding that the Lanham Act’s disparagement clause violated the First Amendment.
The second case was Iancu v. Brunetti, in which fashion designer Erik Brunetti argued that his application to trademark his fashion brand FUCT (Friends U Can’t Trust) should not have been denied. The court sided with Brunetti in 2019, stating that the refusal to grant “scandalous” trademarks was unconstitutional, also violating Brunetti’s First Amendment rights.
After the Brunetti decision, Thunderpussy waited nine months before finding out this week that they had won their appeal and been granted their trademark. In a statement released with the news, the band expressed their gratitude toward both Tam and Brunetti for speaking up about the unconstitutional restrictions on trademarks.
“We are thrilled with the decision and happy to be the proud stewards of Thunderpussy,” they wrote. “Thank you to Simon Tam and Erik Brunetti for pushing your cases all the way to the Supreme Court. And thank you to the Supreme Court for upholding the principles of self expression and freedom of speech that we hold dear. This is one small step for Pussy, and one giant leap for Thunderpussy.”