Law banning offensive trademarks found unconstitutional by Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a law forbidding registration of offensive trademarks was unconstitutional on Monday. The law limited free speech which is against the First Amendment.
The ruling came after a case involving an Asian-American dance rock band called The Slants were denied a trademark because the government believed the name was derogatory towards people of Asian descent. After their denial, The Slants’ frontman, Simon Tam, appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals which ruled that the law didn’t follow the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech.
The federal government, which appealed the ruling, said that the government shouldn’t have to be required to approve trademarks “containing crude references to women based on parts of their anatomy; the most repellent racial slurs and white-supremacist slogans; and demeaning illustrations of the prophet Mohammed and other religious figures.”
The band chose their name to reclaim a term that can be considered a disparaging reference to the Asian community. They want the name to be seen as a “badge of pride.”