Supreme Court says Government Can’t Ban “Offensive” Trademarks

In a decision that may end up allowing the Washington Redskins maintain their trademarks, the Supreme Court ruled Monday the federal trademark law banning offensive names is unconstitutional. In this particular case the court sided with a Chinatown dance rock band named The Slants,  whose name had been deemed racially disparaging by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.

In 2014 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office used that same clause to cancel the Washington D.C NFL team’s six trademarks on the name “Washington Redskins,” based on the same law (the Redskins case is working its way through the courts).

In a unanimous 8-0 decision (the decision was made before Justice Gorsuch joined the court), the Supreme Court ruled the law’s  “disparagement clause” violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment.

“The Slants,” a band based in Oregon, and composed of Asian-Americans was denied a trademark because its name was deemed offensive…

 

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