Supreme Court strikes down law blocking disparaging trademarks


Justice Anthony Kennedy, in a concurring opinion, said the government can regulate speech only in narrow, already established areas such as fraud, defamation and incitement.

"The Supreme Court vindicated the team's position that the First Amendment blocks the government from denying or cancelling a trademark registration based on the government's opinion", said Lisa Blatt, an attorney for the football team.

Tam has said he chose to call the band The Slants to reclaim a term some consider a derogatory reference to Asian people's eyes, and wear it as a "badge of pride".

The original lawsuit about the Redskins nickname was brought by plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse, who sued the team and claimed that the name "Redskins" disparaged Native Americans. "And hopefully today's decision will put a stop to the absurd practice of PTO examiners acting as formal speech police, Googling people to find out if they're the 'right kind" to receive a government benefit".

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 Washington Redskins lost their trademark in 2014, a decision upheld by lower courts.

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He later wrote that, "The 'public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers'".

"Sorry if we try too hard / To take some power back for ours", Tam sings on the opening track "From the Heart", a catchy guitar-driven tune of post-punk.

The Supreme Court sided with the band, ruling the Lanham Act violates freedom of speech. And now with The Slants' win at the court, the Redskins team may soon be able to also get its name trademarked as well. If a "substantial composite, although not necessarily a majority, of the referenced group would find the proposed be disparaging in the context of contemporary attitudes", the trademark could not be registered.

Their fight wasn't meant to help sports teams like the Redskins. Those other protections can be found in states" laws and in licensing contracts between the Redskins and businesses that produce merchandise and apparel with "Redskins' on them. "The registration supplies the strongest source of trademark protection for the team".

"After an excruciating legal battle that has spanned almost eight years, we're beyond humbled and thrilled to have won this case at the Supreme Court". Don't be surprised if it surfaces again sooner rather than later.

The Supreme Court also ruled on another free speech case on Monday, striking down a North Carolina law banning convicted sex offenders from Facebook and other social media services that play a vital role in modern life.