U.S. Supreme Court
Posted Jan 18, 2017 04:44 pm CST
A majority of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared receptive to arguments by a dance-rock band that is challenging the federal ban on registration of disparaging trademarks.
The Asian-American band, the Slants, claims the ban amounts to viewpoint discrimination that violates the First Amendment. A majority of the Supreme Court appeared skeptical of the law during oral arguments, report the Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Today and Law.com (sub. req.).
According to coverage by Law.com, the tenor of the argument is probably good news for the Washington NFL team whose trademark was revoked under the law on the ground that its name is disparaging to Native Americans.
The Slants has said it is using the name to reclaim a disparaging term about Asians and use it “as a badge of pride.”
Though the justices appeared skeptical of the law, they also appeared troubled by assertions that the government had almost no leeway in rejecting trademark registrations. Justices raised hypothetical scenarios about trademark applications for names that denigrate an individual, for example.
Could someone trademark the phrase, “Trump is a thief,” Sotomayor asked lawyer John Connell, who represents the band’s founder.
“I believe that’s correct,” Connell replied.
ABAJournal.com: “ABA brief in disparaging trademarks case says denied registration doesn’t eliminate all protection”
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