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Boost to Redskins case: Supreme Court says government can’t refuse disparaging trademarks


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The government cannot censor trademarks on the grounds they may be offensive to some, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a major decision that could also clear the way for the Washington Redskins football team to maintain its trademarks.

The case before the high court involved an Asian rock band named “The Slants.” The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office originally denying the band’s name, saying it was a racial slur that violated the agency’s policy, based on federal law, that prohibits granting disparaging trademarks.

Justices, though, said that violated the First Amendment.
“Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said in his opinion for the court.:snip:

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Supreme Court: There’s no “hate speech” exception to 1st Amendment

Paul Mirengoff

June 19, 2017

 

he Supreme Court ruled this morning that the government cannot deny full trademark protection to allegedly racially offensive trademarks. The opinions are here.

The case involved an Asian-American band called “The Slants.” It sought federal registration of that mark. The Patent and Trademark Office denied the application under a Lanhan Act provision prohibiting trademarks that may “disparage. . .or bring. . .into contemp[t] or disrepute” any “persons, living or dead.”

The Court ruled in favor of The Slants. The vote was unanimous, though the Court split 4-4 on some of the finer points.

Eugene Volokh summarizes the core points on which all eight Justices agreed (Justice Gorsuch did not participate):

 

(Snip)

 

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WRONG!!!

 

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