- Title: U.S. top court says law banning offensive trademarks is unconstitutional
- Date: 19th June 2017
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT BUILDING
- Embargoed: 3rd July 2017 19:34
- Keywords: 'The Slants ' U.S. Supreme Court justices the Washington Redskins band free speech First Amendment
- Location: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES/UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS/UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION/LANDOVER, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES/ASHBURN, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES
- City: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES/UNIDENTIFIED FILMING LOCATIONS/UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION/LANDOVER, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES/ASHBURN, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Judicial Process/Court Cases/Court Decisions,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA0056LY46KN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday (June 19) that a law forbidding official registration of offensive trademarks unconstitutionally limits free speech in a case involving a band called The Slants, an outcome the government has said could lead to a proliferation of racial slurs as sanctioned trademarks.
The court ruled 8-0 in favor of Portland, Oregon-based Asian-American dance rock band The Slants, which had been denied a trademark because the government deemed the name disparaging to people of Asian descent. The band challenged the rejection as a violation of free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, winning at the appeals court level before the government appealed to the high court.
The ruling is expected to have a direct impact on another high-profile case involving the National Football League's Washington Redskins. The team filed a legal challenge to a 2014 decision by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office tribunal canceling its trademarks as disparaging to Native Americans.
Writing for the court on Monday, Justice Samuel Alito did not mince words in ruling that the trademark provision is unconstitutional. "It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend," Alito wrote.
In the separate Redskins case, a trademark board in 2014 canceled the team's six trademarks at the request of Native American activists on grounds that the team name disparaged Native Americans.
The team's appeal, also on free speech grounds, was put on hold in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, pending the outcome of The Slants' case.
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