Justices say government can't refuse disparaging trademarks

The Supreme Court of the United States decided in the case ofMatal v. Tam Monday to strike down a key provision of the Lanham Act barring the United States Patent and Trademark Office from recognizing a disparaging trademark, citing concerns that the act violated the First Amendment. The team is now appealing a federal judge's decision to uphold the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's cancellation of their trademark, because it is a racial slur and disparages Native Americans (and, per this website's house style, is not fit for print).

In 2014, following a vehement campaign to pressure the National Football League and Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team's name over the concern that it offended many Native Americans, the trademark office canceled the Redskins' trademark, citing the same clause in the Lanham Act as it did with the Slants' application in 2011. But then a majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the law violates the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.

After losing in a lower court, the band won at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which ruled 9-3 previous year that "the First Amendment protects even hurtful speech".

The justices ruled the 71-year-old trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes on free speech rights. As Justice Samuel Alito put it in a part of the opinion that all the justices joined, "If the federal registration of a trademark makes the mark government speech, the Federal Government is babbling prodigiously and incoherently". But founder Simon Tam said the point of the band's name is just the opposite: an attempt to reclaim a slur and use it "as a badge of pride".

A federal appeals court had sided with the Slants in 2015, saying First Amendment protects "even hurtful speech that harms members of oft-stigmatized communities". Alito rejected arguments that the government has an interest in preventing speech that is offensive to certain groups.


Banzhaf filed a petition to deny the renewal of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder's Washington radio station, WWXX-FM, over its use of the term "Redskins" on-air to refer to the team.

Band says decision means "marginalized communities" can determine for themselves what's best, even if it involves words thought racially insensitive.

"It canceled the registration for the Washington Redskins in 2014 at the behest of some Native Americans who considered the name offensive". Snyder issued a quick statement after Monday's decision: "I am THRILLED". Alito also said trademarks are not immune from First Amendment protection as part of a government program or subsidy.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office appealed that ruling to the high court in April, and the justices granted certiorari in September.

Lisa Simpson, an intellectual property expert, characterized the Supreme Court's decision as a slippery slope.


Popular
  • Portugal goal against Mexico annulled after video review

    Portugal goal against Mexico annulled after video review

    Portugal will play Mexico in the Confederations Cup, Group A soccer match scheduled for Sunday, June 18, 2017 . Obviously the Portugal side has the best player in the entire tournament with the ineffable Cristiano Ronaldo .
    What is Gender 'X'? OR  and California Are Breaking With M/F Binary

    What is Gender 'X'? OR and California Are Breaking With M/F Binary

    My gender identity has never been male, but I feel like I have to own up to my male biology. "I'm a mixture of both", Shupe said. The new rule came about after an OR resident's court order authorized a sex change from female to "non-binary".
    Pence hires outside legal counsel

    Pence hires outside legal counsel

    Cullen previously served as Virginia attorney general and US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Senator Paul Trible (R-VA) during the Iran-Contra investigation and was on the staff of Rep.
  • Tillerson warns against steps that cut off talks with Russia

    Tillerson warns against steps that cut off talks with Russia

    The measure also gives Congress 30 days to review or potentially block Trump in case he decides to lift or ease the sanctions. Ben Cardin , the top Democrat on foreign relations, expressed confidence Monday that Trump would sign off on it.

    Harry Kane: 'I want to be England captain full time'

    I did not want to lose my first game as captain, that is for sure - especially against Scotland . For Kane , captaining England for the first time , the experience was one to remember.
    Square Enix's Life Is Strange Spin-off Prequel Announced At E3 2017

    Square Enix's Life Is Strange Spin-off Prequel Announced At E3 2017

    The original Life is unusual was a graphic episodic adventure game developed by Square Enix , and was critically acclaimed. Given the trailer's tone and theme, we think they've nailed the same feel regardless.
  • Britain-EU Brexit talks to start Monday as planned

    Barnier dismissed the suggestion of postponing the negotiations and said such a delay would only prompt further instability. Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein said the prospect of a British agreement with the DUP was causing anxiety and fear.

    Apple demands cut of Chinese app 'tips'

    If the user decides not to leave a rating or a review, they won't have to see it over and over again every time they open the app. But the concern from developers may be the loss of control over when, or how often, that prompt is presented.
    Bombing in western Afghanistan kills 7

    Bombing in western Afghanistan kills 7

    He said that up to 11,000 foreign militants had allegedly arrived in Afghanistan in the last two years to fight for Daesh. The conference is being attended by the representatives of at least 27 countries worldwide.
  • US State Secretary: North Korea Frees American Citizen

    US State Secretary: North Korea Frees American Citizen

    A department of state spokeswoman said the former basketball player had nothing to do with Warmbier's release. If it were, there might be pressure on President Trump to take action against Kim Jong-un's regime, he says.
    State does the responsible thing in fighting climate change

    State does the responsible thing in fighting climate change

    Fuel economy regulations for cars and trucks, clean energy tax incentives and research spending may also get reduced. It's no wonder President Obama neglected to submit this detrimental agreement to the United States Senate.
    Sony's PlayLink is a more social way to interact with games

    Sony's PlayLink is a more social way to interact with games

    PlayLink titles are created to be played in a group setting, allowing for a truly fun and dynamic experience. Other titles revealed to be coming include Frantics , Knowledge is Power and SingStar Celebration .

CONNECT