Some time ago, my SIOA colleague Pamela Geller and I applied for a trademark registration for the name Stop Islamization Of America. It was rejected: the trademark office stated that “Islamization” meant “Islamic,” and that thus to say that Islamization must be stopped disparaged Muslims in general and linked them to terrorism. This is a common canard against my work, but coming from the Trademark Office we couldn’t allow it to stand, so we engaged the great lawyers David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center to pursue the matter. Once again, these warriors for freedom unhesitatingly took the case pro bono, and have filed a brilliant response to the Trademark Office’s claims.
I am legal counsel to the applicant, Pamela Geller, regarding the trademark application referenced above. Please consider this letter and its exhibits as evidentiary support of my client’s Response to Office Action Trademark Application Refusal filed via TEAS. Specifically, my client objects to USPTO’s Office Action refusal to register (“Office Action”) the trademark “Stop the Islamisation of America” (“SIOA”) on the grounds that it violates 15 U.S.C. Â§ 1052(a), and specifically that the trademark “includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols.”1 Even more particularly, my client objects and responds to the Office Action refusal to register the trademark on the grounds that the trademark “consists of matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute Muslims and the Islamic religion.”
The Office Action refusal to register my client’s trademark predicates its ruling on two grounds: (1) that the meaning of the word ‘Islamisation’ combined with the word ‘Stop’ refers to Muslims in a disparaging manner because by definition it implies that conversion or conformity to Islam is something that needs to be stopped or caused to cease; and (2) that my client’s trademark, which identifies informational services (i.e., “providing information regarding understanding and preventing terrorism”), “implies that Islam is associated with violence and threats.”
My client objects to these two grounds for the following reasons: (1) the Office Action improperly and too generally defines ‘Islamisation’ as referring to Muslims and Islam; (2) the Office Action fails to identify what specific group of Muslims would be disparaged by the trademark; (3) there is no showing that terrorism is not in fact associated with ‘Islamisation’; and (4) refusal to grant the trademark is a violation of my client’s right to Free Speech guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
II. THE OFFICE ACTION IMPROPERLY AND TOO GENERALLY DEFINES ‘ISLAMISATION’ AS REFERRING TO MUSLIMS AND ISLAM.
The Office Action premises its refusal to register based upon the following faulty polysyllogism:
Premise 1: ‘Islamisation’ refers to converting to Islam or becoming more Islamic.
Premise 2: ‘Islam’ and ‘Islamic’ refer to Muslims.
Premise 3: ‘Stop’ disparages that which it seeks to render inactive.
Proposition: ‘Stop the Islamisation of America’ (“SIOA”) disparages Muslims.
The Office Action then applies the proposition of its syllogism to draw the conclusion that because (a) SIOA provides services relating to information of and about terrorism, then (b) SIOA links Muslims qua Muslims to terrorism.
First, the Office Action’s proposition that SIOA disparages Muslims, and its further conclusion that SIOA links Muslims qua Muslims to terrorism, both flow from the first premise which is patently false. ‘Islamisation’ does not refer to an individual or even a society simply converting to the faith of Islam or even becoming more Islamic. The Office Action, in defining ‘Islamisation’ as merely the conversion to Islam or becoming more Islamic, has improperly relied upon an online dictionary called Dictionary.com (see Office Action Attachments 1-3). The problem with using this online dictionary definition is twofold: (1) the Dictionary.com definition does not properly characterize how Muslims themselves use the word ‘Islamisation,’ nor does it describe how professional and academics in the relevant disciplines use the word; and (2) The Office Action ignores the dominant and prevailing meaning of the term, which is actually provided by Dictionary.com as a second meaning. This alternative definition is closer to how Muslims use the word and how relevant professionals and academics apply the word in the literature of their respective disciplines. Thus, Dictionary.com recognizes that the word can mean “To cause to conform to Islamic law2 or precepts.” (emphasis added.) (See Office Action Attachment 2.) But even this definition is woefully inadequate because ‘Islamisation’ does not just mean “to cause to conform to [Shariah],” but includes the entire politicalization of Shariah so that it controls all aspects of political, social, economic, and religious life.
Formally, the proper and widely understood definition of ‘Islamisation’ (alternatively spelled ‘Islamization’) is the political movement prevalent in a society or societal unit which seeks to embrace a political doctrine that calls for the application of Shariah (i.e., Islamic law) as the supreme law of the society. While Islamisation and the call to create a Shariah-adherent political order does include the call to convert non-Muslims, that is not what marks Islamisation as a political and social order, and it is not how Muslims themselves understand the word, nor is it how professionals and academics in the relevant disciplines use the word.
Rather, Islamisation is specifically the politicization of a Muslim’s religious faith in that Shariah, in its classic and extant form, demands that a society’s laws must all be predicated upon and subservient to Shariah and its legal jurisprudence called fiqh. Islamisation even in its “moderate” form demands that no secular law may contradict any Shariah dictate. The prototypical examples of this form of Islamisation are the constitutional or legal provisions in Muslim-dominated countries that include a “Shariah-supremacy” clause providing that no secular law passed by the political branches may contradict Shariah.
In short, the Islamisation of a society is the conversion to a theocratic political order organized and enforced by the dictates of Shariah. Per Shariah, there is no possibility of “separation of mosque and state.” Shariah applies to all political, social, religious, and military institutions within a society that has undergone Islamisation.
For the foregoing reasons, we ask that you reverse the Office Action’s refusal to register the trademark and to take any and all steps to register the trademark immediately.
David Yerushalmi, Esq.