Attorney John R. Sommer at the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo by Katrina Sommer

Local lawyer prevails in Supreme Court

July 2019

The United States Supreme Curt ruled in favor of Villa Park Attorney John Sommer,  who had argued a case challenging a statute that allows the Trademark Office to deny trademarks deemed “immoral or scandalous.” 

The court ruled against the century-old provision that prevented businesses from registering trademarks deemed inappropriate, and found in favor of Sommer’s client Erik Brunetti and his streetwear logo “Friends U Can’t Trust.”

“Today is a good day for Americans,” said Sommer. “The U.S. Supreme Court has taken the federal government out of the business of deciding questions of morality.” The case, he explained, was not about the trademark, but free speech. Sommer argued that the statute was an infringement on First Amendment freedom of speech rights and the court, in a 6-3 decision, agreed. 

Only about 80 cases per year are heard by the Supreme Court, and Sommer, a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a UCLA Law School graduate, was honored to approach the bench before all nine justices. He had spent six months drafting a brief, practiced in moot courts, and was prepared to answer the justices’ questions. He made his appearance on tax day (April 15), and the rapid decision was delivered June 24. 

He is proud and happy with the outcome, but, he notes, will be just “a footnote, as the attorney” for the landmark Iancu v. Brunetti case.