Law on Offensive Trademarks Declared Unconstitutional

Jun 19, 2017  •  Post A Comment

In a Supreme Court ruling that is seen as a win for the Washington Redskins, the court struck down parts of a law banning offensive trademarks. The ruling is expected to help the Redskins in their legal battle to keep the team name.

“The justices ruled that the 71-year-old trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes free speech rights,” the AP reports. “The ruling is a victory for the Asian-American rock band called the Slants, but the case was closely watched for the impact it would have on the separate dispute involving the Washington football team.”

The report notes that an effort by Slants founder Simon Tam to trademark the band’s name in 2011 was denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which determined that the name disparages Asians. A federal appeals court in Washington later ruled that the law barring offensive trademarks is unconstitutional.

“The Redskins made similar arguments after the trademark office ruled in 2014 that the name offends American Indians and canceled the team’s trademark,” the AP reports. “A federal appeals court in Richmond put the team’s case on hold while waiting for the Supreme Court to rule in the Slants case.”

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