Tam says he chose the name “Slants” to reclaim the word from its use as a slur against Asian-Americans.
Today’s ruling marks the end of a legal saga that started nearly eight years ago when the United States Trademark and Patent Office attempted to prevent The Slants, an Asian-American band, from trademarking their name on the grounds that “slants” disparages Asian Americans.
The suit was brought forth by Simon Tam, the founder of the Asian-American rock band The Slants.
The federal government said in court papers that it should not be required to approve trademarks ‘containing crude references to women based on parts of their anatomy; the most repellent racial slurs and white-supremacist slogans; and demeaning illustrations of the prophet Mohammed and other religious figures’.
“The Supreme Court is clear that trademarks are private speech, not government speech”, he said.
“I am thrilled! Hail to the Redskins”, Snyder said in a statement to CSN Mid-Atlantic.
This particular law is particularly troublesome in that it places the government in a position where it gets to determine what’s offensive and what’s not, a notion that anyone who values free speech should find, well, troubling.
The top U.S. court says the government can not deny registration of trademarks with offensive terms, arguing that is a violation of the right to free speech.
A federal judge in 2015 affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s 2014 revocation of six federal trademark registrations belonging to the Redskins.
In an interview with KFGO News, American Indian activist Clyde Bellecourt says the National Football League would never allow a group such as Catholics to be used as mascots.
“The Lanham Act is a federal law that – until today – permitted the government to deny registered trademarks determined to be “disparag [ing],’ or otherwise “offensive” or “immoral” to a “substantial composite” of an affected group”. On Monday, the Supreme Court sided with The Slants.
The Redskins lost their trademark a couple years ago because of that very act.
Per Scooby Axson of Sports Illustrated, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote the following in his opinion of the case.
The Redskins have had their own troubles with the United States Trademark and Patent Office that has resulted in ongoing legal action. Coleman and his team argued anything less than full trademark protection would shortchange the band’s rights. After using the name for decades, they had their trademark revoked in 2014 after protests that the name was offensive towards Native Americans.
“After an excruciating legal battle that has spanned almost eight years”, the band said in a prepared statement, “we’re beyond humbled and thrilled to have won this case at the Supreme Court”.