The Rush to File Disparaging Trademarks…. Racially offensive trademark applications are piling up at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The Supreme Court decided in March that the federal government couldn’t ban trademarks because they are disparaging. The Supreme Court struck down part of the Trademarks Act that bans offensive (disparaging) trademarks.
The ruling is expected to help the Washington Redskins in their legal fight to keep the team name as a registered trademark. The justices ruled that the 71-year-old trademark law infringes on free speech rights.
The ruling is a victory for an Asian-American rock band the Slants (see my previous post). The case was also closely watched for the impact it would have on the REDSKINS.
The Redskins made similar arguments after the trademark office ruled that the name offends American Indians, and cancelled the team’s trademark.
Justice Samuel Alito said trademarks are not immune from First Amendment protection as part of a government program or subsidy.
“Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend,” Alito said, in his opinion for the court.