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American band the Slants win Supreme Court battle over trademark

American band the Slants win Supreme Court battle over trademark

But the disparagement clause was the wedge that activists were trying to use to force the Washington Redskins to change the National Football League team's name (the team has been fighting the cancellation of its trademark in court).

Simon Tam, the band's frontman, filed a lawsuit after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) denied his application for a trademark for the name "The Slants".

The case has drawn intense interest as it focused on the rights of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment of the USA constitution, at a time of heightened racial tensions in the country.

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that a law banning the registration of offensive trademarks was unconstitutional.

A recent Supreme Court case involving an Asian dance-rock band called The Slants has served as a setback for critics hoping to find legal grounds for forcing the Washington Redskins to change their name. The Slants had attempted to trademark their name in 2011, and the USPTO turned them down based on a "disparagement clause" in federal trademark law, which prohibits the registering of trademarks that could be offensive to particular groups or people.

With the most recent ruling of The Slants' case, Matal v. Tam, No. 15-1293, the Redskins are in a more favorable light to win its appeals case, according to legal analysts.

The Supreme Court yesterday struck down part of a law that bans offensive trademarks. And in a portion of the opinion joined by all participating Justices, he rejected the suggestion that trademarks constitute government speech.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to protect other potentially hateful or hurtful speech in recent years.

In a statement after the Supreme Court's decision, the tribal council of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi said issues like health care, education, and safe and affordable housing are the most pressing issues but they are also committed to curbing offensive behavior. The next place for this argument very well may be the team's effort to get a new stadium, and Carter said politicians could use it as a part of the negotiation if taxpayer money is involved. "It's a tough outcome to swallow because many people - even myself for good and proper reasons - don't like the prospect of really offensive marks being registered", Nodine said. If you're interested, hear "From the Heart", from the Slants' cheekily-titled The Band Who Must Not Be Named EP, below.

The name Redhawks is now emblazoned on the football field's new artificial turf surface and the Goshen teams are playing under the new logo.

Douglas Gallagher, intellectual property attorney at SmithAmundsen LLC's Indianapolis office, was surprised by how broad the decision was.

Indian groups opposing the Redskins said the ruling does not change the fact that the name "is a dictionary-defined racial slur". Justice Samuel Alito had this to say in explaining that federally-protected trademarks aren't messages from Uncle Sam: "I$3 f trademarks represent government speech, what does the Government have in mind when it advises Americans to "make.believe" (Sony), "Think different" (Apple), "Just do it" (Nike), or "Have it your way" (Burger King)?"


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