Portland-based Asian-American band the Slants won their day in court this week as the US Supreme Court struck down part of a law that bans offensive trademarks. The justices were unanimous in their defense of free speech, agreeing that the 71-year-old trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.
“It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion for the case.
The court case stems from a 2011 attempt by the band’s founder Simon Tam to trademark the band’s name. At the time, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied Tam’s request, on the grounds that the name was a disparaging term for Asians.
The court case may be good news for the NFL team the Washington Redskins, who made similar arguments in 2014 after the trademark office ruled that their name was an offensive term and excluded from trademark. Their appeal of the case had been on hold while the Slants case proceeded through the courts.
via Celebrity Access