US Court: Offensive Trademarks Are Protected by Free Speech
The United States Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Asian-American musical group called "The Slants" has the right to trademark its name. The word is offensive to many Asians.
The group's founder, Simon Tam, tried to trademark the name in 2011. But the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied the request. It said the word was a derogatory reference to Asian peoples' eyes.
But on Monday, the Supreme Court said a federal law that bans offensive trademarks violates free speech rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Tam was happy about the ruling. He said: "This journey has always been much bigger than our band -- it's been about the rights of all marginalized communities to determine what's best for ourselves."
The ruling could affect other trademark cases. In 2014, the trademark for the Washington Redskins football team was cancelled after Native Americans complained that the word "redskins" was offensive. A lower court said it would wait to hear an appeal of the decision until the Supreme Court ruled on the musical group's appeal.
I'm Phil Dierking.