Offensive Trademark Law Nixed by Supreme Court

Offensive Trademark Law Nixed by Supreme Court

Offensive Trademark Law Nixed by Supreme Court

In 2011, he attempted to trademark the name, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refused registration on the ground that it violated the prohibition on trademarks that "disparage ... or bring ... into contemp [t] or disrepute" any "persons, living or dead" under the Lanham Act. "The Supreme Court has vindicated First Amendment rights not only for our The Slants, but all Americans who are fighting against paternal government policies that ultimately lead to viewpoint discrimination", wrote Tam. He had expected the Supreme Court to offer a more narrowly tailored opinion, but he views the ruling as consistent with the justices' previous stances on free speech.

"(The idea that the government may restrict) speech expressing ideas that offend ... strikes at the heart of the First Amendment", wrote Justice Alito in his opinion. The USPTO viewed the name as a racial slur but the musicians argued they were trying to reclaim the term and diminish its offensiveness.

In the case of the Redskins' nickname, Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma has asked the commissioner of the National Football League to get the name changed because the NFL is "on the wrong side of history".

Asian-American dance rock band The Slants talk about their Supreme Court case, including a supporter they'd rather not have: Dan Snyder.

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The Slants fought the law, and the Slants won. "Nothing in the opinion undermines the decisions of the (trademark office's appeals board) or the District Court that the term "redskin" disparages Native Americans".

Another problem with the trademark law - as if being unconstitutional was not problem enough - was its inconsistent application by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. He said the 4th Circuit could rule on whether the team name was derogatory to a substantial composite of Native Americans when the registrations were granted beginning in the 1960s - the team argues they were not - but is more likely simply to overturn the lower court decision based on this Supreme Court ruling and leave it at that.

The government is not required to maintain viewpoint neutrality on its own speech. The same is true for the Redskins, but the team did not want to lose the legal protections that go along with a registered trademark. On Monday, the court ruled unanimously that the First Amendment provided for copyrights offensive names. Snyder issued a quick statement after Monday's decision: "I am THRILLED". 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)?" Nine of 10 American Indians have no problem with the use of the term "Redskins" as a sports mascot, according to a poll a year ago conducted by the Washington Post.

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