Justices say law on offensive trademarks is unconstitutional

The Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit against the United States Trademark and Patent Office, who sought to prevent the band from trademarking their name.

The band's victory could be welcome news for the Washington Redskins, which has been waging its own legal fight over the team's name, which some people find offensive.

The Slants tried to trademark the name in 2011, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied the request on the ground that the name disparages Asians.

The justices ruled Monday that a federal appeals court was wrong to consider the merits of Percy Hutton's claim that his trial judge gave jurors faulty instructions during sentencing. The court decided the ban on registering "scandalous, immoral, or disparaging remarks" violated the First Amendment.

In a unanimous judgment that splintered on its reasoning, the Supreme Court correctly held that the "disparagement clause" of the Lanham Act (the federal trademark law) violated the Constitution. "This Court exercises great caution in extending its government-speech precedents, for if private speech could be passed off as government speech by simply affixing a government seal of approval, government could silence or muffle the expression of disfavored viewpoints", the court said.

Lisa Blatt, a lawyer representing the Redskins, told Reuters the team is thrilled with Monday's ruling because it resolves "the Redskins' long-standing dispute with the government". But some say the government approval of trademarks confers more than a commercial benefit and suggests tacit government approval of the slurs.

Tam said the band was "beyond humbled and thrilled" with the ruling.

"It canceled the registration for the Washington Redskins in 2014 at the behest of some Native Americans who considered the name offensive".

But when the litigation of the word "redskins" is left to a group like the PTO, the resulting decisions will always say more about that body's own biases than anything else.

"The Supreme Court vindicated the team's position that the First Amendment blocks the government from denying or cancelling a trademark registration based on the government's opinion", Blatt said.

Alito was backed in the majority opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Stephen Breyer. But they raised the bar for trademark denials so that names deemed to be offensive but not hateful can survive. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a separate opinion and was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Government officials said the law did not infringe on free speech rights because the band was still free to use the name even without trademark protection. The decision could destroy legal challenges to other controversial trademarks, such as the Washington Redskins football team.

Related news:

Hot News

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Rep. Steve Scalise's condition upgraded to 'serious'
Jun 19, 2017 - 00:08
House Speaker Paul Ryan has paid a visit to wounded Majority Whip Steve Scalise at the hospital. Two Capitol Police officers ran into the spray of bullets, killing Hodgkinson in a shoot-out.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top American Student Freed By North Korea Arrives Home
Jun 19, 2017 - 00:07
Warmbier's parents were told their son was given a sleeping pill soon after his trial in March previous year and never woke. Pinkston said the trip was likely part of an effort by the North's foreign ministry to ease tensions with Washington .

Rodman begins sightseeing on NKorea trip he hopes opens door
Jun 18, 2017 - 00:09
Warmbier left North Korea on the same day that former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman came to the country for the fifth time . A hospital spokeswoman says Warmbier's family is expected to hold a news conference Thursday morning at Wyoming High School.

Britain, EU to begin Brexit negotiations on Monday
Jun 18, 2017 - 00:04
Chancellor Philip Hammond said the Government's priority in the negotiations should be to protect jobs, economic growth and prosperity.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Tennessee man: Fugitive inmates surrendered without a word
Jun 17, 2017 - 07:36
Deputies spotted the vehicle and chased it for 20 miles (32 kilometers) at high-speed, Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Rowe and Dubose attempted to steal a auto from the home when the homeowner heard the noise, walked outside, and caught them.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Stielike sacked after latest Korea defeat
Jun 17, 2017 - 07:33
Stielike's high point was leading South Korea to the final of the 2015 Asian Cup where it lost 2-1 to Australia after extra-time. Stielike's side, however, is just one point above No. 3 Uzbekistan with two matches remaining.

SCO summit: PM meets Ashraf Ghani, shakes hand with Modi
Jun 15, 2017 - 01:29
The fight against terrorism is an important part of the SCO cooperation, he said. We must continue the good tradition of solidarity and coordination, he stated.

Sessions to face sharp questions on Russia contacts
Jun 15, 2017 - 01:29
That could include answering questions and cooperating with investigations or subpoenas regarding certain information. As the two spoke over one another in a tense exchange, Sessions told Harris, "I'm not able to be rushed this fast".

Jeff Sessions Testifies Before Senate Intelligence Committee
Jun 14, 2017 - 06:08
Sessions says there is a long-standing tradition that the attorney general does not comment on conversations with the President. Among the Trump associates under investigation by the bureau is Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn .

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Jury in Bill Cosby sex assault case studies his deposition
Jun 14, 2017 - 06:05
O'Neill, however, said he is not permitted to elaborate beyond what was written in the charges he had sent back with the jury. Pointing to what he claimed were Constand's inconsistent statements, McMonagle and co-defense lawyer Angela C.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Netanyahu: No interest in escalation over Gaza power spat
Jun 14, 2017 - 06:03
The request from PA President Mahmoud Abbas is part of escalating tensions between his Fatah faction and Hamas, which runs Gaza. The Haaretz newspaper reports that Israel's Cabinet chose to cut back supplies but this could not be immediately confirmed.

Warriors' Green stays in Game 4 after technical foul fiasco
Jun 12, 2017 - 08:47
OK. "I don't pay attention to people in Cleveland honestly", he said, according to the Bay Area News Group's Anthony Slater . Those two dozen three-pointers were six more than they made in any other game this season, including the playoffs.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top British leader reaches tentative deal to shore up rule
Jun 12, 2017 - 08:43
The two parties are broadly politically aligned, but it remains to be seen what price the DUP will demand for its support. A senior Conservative lawmaker was in Belfast on Saturday for talks with the DUP, a spokeswoman for May's office said.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Alex Salmond praises Gordon constituency after General Election loss to Tories
Jun 12, 2017 - 08:40
He said that while the SNP may have been reduced in numbers at Westminster, they will still have significant influence. The SNP have held onto Dundee West and East despite a surge in Tory votes in the city of discovery.

Apple unveils new technology at WWDC in San Jose
Jun 12, 2017 - 08:39
The two companies have been competitors in the video industry, but both parties eventually came to an agreement earlier this year. Today was the first day of Apple's WWDC 2017 event, and the company announced new iterations of iOS , macOS , and watchOS .