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Ritchie v. Simpson

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
170 F.3d 1092 (1999)


Orenthal James Simpson (defendant) applied for registration of the marks “O.J. SIMPSON,” “O.J.,” and “THE JUICE” used in connection with a variety of products. This application was approved, and the marks were published in the Official Gazette. William B. Ritchie (plaintiff) then filed an opposition to Simpson’s registration on the basis that: (1) the marks were immoral or scandalous matter, and (2) one of the marks was unregistrable, because it is primarily merely a surname. Specifically, Ritchie asserted that he was a family man who believed in the sanctity of marriage, which he claimed would be damaged by registration of marks that are synonymous with a wife abuser and murderer. Ritchie offered into evidence petitions signed by many people who shared Ritchie’s beliefs. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) found that Ritchie did not have standing and dismissed his opposition. Ritchie appealed the decision.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Plager, J.)

Dissent (Newman, J.)

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