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Justices say law on offensive trademarks is unconstitutional

Justices say law on offensive trademarks is unconstitutional”

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board invalidated those trademark protections in 2014, ruling that the name was "disparaging to Native Americans" and thus violated a clause in a federal trademark law. According to an opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, "The disparagement clause violates the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause".

Slants founder Simon Tam tried to trademark the band name in 2011, but the U.S. A federal appeals court in Washington later said the law barring offensive trademarks is unconstitutional and the Supreme Court agreed.

In 2014, the trademarks office also canceled the Redskins trademark because the agency said it offends American Indians.

The Redskins case was on hold pending the Supreme Court decision in the Slants case.

After the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office turned down his application, Tam embarked on a legal battle over a section of the Lanham Act, which has governed trademarks for more than 70 years. "For me, this whole fight has not been just about the band name and our right to access the trademark registration", Tam said. "The Supreme Court vindicated the Team's position". The government argued that granting a trademark to The Slants effectively constituted a subsidy - citing a line of cases going back decades, they argued that the government is not required to sponsor or underwrite expression. Their case was based off First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. The band consists of four Asian Americans, and it acknowledges that its name has been used as a racial slur; however, the band also says that its name follows a "long tradition of 'reappropriation" in order to reclaim racial slurs and take away their power. "Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend", Alito writes in his opinion.

And the would-be censors can't even blame President Trump: Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court too late to join in stomping on this nonsense.

Considering Washington plays in a league that has shown absolutely no interest in preventing the team from using the name, there seems to be no end to the R**skins nickname in sight.

This decision has implications for a high-profile trademark case involving the Washington Redskins.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear The Slants' case past year, after a lower court declared the anti-disparagement clause in trademark law unconstitutional in 2015. Based on Monday's decision, there is a strong chance the court will rule in favor of the Redskins.

That trademark office ruling capped a fight that began in 1992 when another group of activists sued - and lost - in an attempt to block the team's use of the name.



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