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Rock Band's Court Win Bodes Well for Redskins

Rock Band's Court Win Bodes Well for Redskins”

The Supreme Court struck down part of a federal law that denies trademark protection of terms that disparage living or dead.

The federal government can not refuse to grant protection to trademarks that some consider offensive, the U.S. Supreme court ruled Monday.

[N] o matter how the point is phrased, [the] unmistakable thrust [of the government's argument] is this: The Government has an interest in preventing speech expressing ideas that offend.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refused in 2011 to grant the name government protection, citing a federal law that forbids issuing trademarks that may disparage people "or bring them into contempt or disrepute".

The Redskins made similar arguments after the trademark office canceled the team's trademark in 2015.

In a lengthy Facebook statement celebrating the band's victory, Slants bassist Simon (Young) Tam said the decision allows "marginalized communities to determine what's best for ourselves".

The unanimous opinion the court gave Monday to a case involving the rock band "The Slants" is expected to set a positive precedent for the Redskins. And, as we have explained, that idea strikes at the heart of the First Amendment.

The ruling could have a broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases.

There were two concurring opinions to go with the majority but both concurred in the holding and neither undermines the central point of the Court's analysis - that the government may not engage in viewpoint discrimination against speech it finds offensive.

The team's trademarks were cancelled in 2014, following complaints by Native Americans who found the name offensive.

Justice Neil Gorsuch took no part in the case, which was argued before he joined the court.

Tam sought to register "The Slants" as a federally protected trademark shortly after puting the band together. The protections include blocking the sale of counterfeit merchandise and working to pursue a brand development strategy.

The Redskins lost their trademark a couple years ago because of that very act.

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