Monday, June 19, 2017
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a federal trademark law banning offensive names is unconstitutional, siding with a rock band whose name had been deemed racially disparaging by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In an 8-0 ruling, the court determined the law's so-called "disparagement clause" violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The case centered on Oregon-based, Asian-American band ... which was denied a trademark because its name was considered offensive. The band countered that the 70-year-old law at issue violates free-speech rights -- and Justice Samuel Alito, in the court's opinion, agreed.
The victory for the band could have broader implications and be welcome news for the Washington Redskins, embroiled in its own legal fight over the team's name. The trademark office canceled the football team's lucrative trademarks in 2014 after finding the word "Redskins" is disparaging to Native Americans.
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