‘The Slants’ take to SCOTUS: Defend the 1st Amendment

The Slants take on the government. (Twitter)
The Slants take on the government. (Twitter)

What does Buddha Beachwear, the rock band The Slants, the NFL’s Washington Redskins, and the lesbian motorcycle club “Dykes on Bikes” have in common? All either have or will take on the federal government regarding the feds denying certain organizations or groups trademarking the names they choose to identify themselves as.

As reported by Kevin Daley of The Daily Caller, it’s the government’s Patent and Trademark Office that decides if any given trademark registration request is offensive or disparaging to any given person, community, or institution.

The latest tussle brought before the Supreme Court was brought forward by bass guitar player Simon Shiao Tam of the Portland, Oregon rock band The Slants. The Patent and Trademark Office had denied the group’s application to legally lay claim to the band’s name, but were turned down on the grounds the name “could give offense to Asians.”

Ironically, the band is comprised entirely of Americans of East Asian lineage.

As reported by The Daily Caller;

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether a federal law banning the registration of offensive or disparaging trademarks violates the First Amendment.

The case has major implications for the Washington Redskins, whose trademark was stripped by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and a federal judge last year. The judge concluded that the team name was offensive to Native Americans.

The challenge to the 1946 Lanham Trademark Act, which prohibits the registration of a trademark which “may disparage” a person, community, or institution was brought by Simon Shiao Tam, bass-player for Chinatown dance rock band The Slants. The PTO denied the band’s request for a trademark, finding their name could give offense to Asians. The band is composed exclusively of Asian Americans.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, an appeals court which hears patent and trademark cases, found in Tam’s favor last year.


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