Justices say law on offensive trademarks is unconstitutional

The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of an Asian-American rock band that was denied a trademark on the grounds that it disparages Asisns and states that federal government's ban on offensive trademark registrations violates the First Amendment.

The Portland band began its legal battle when founder and bass player Simon Tam was told by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that he could not legally trademark the name "The Slants" because it was considered a racial slur.

"After an excruciating legal battle that has spanned almost eight years, we´re beyond humbled and thrilled to have won this case at the Supreme Court", Tam said in a statement on social media after the ruling.

Writing separately, Justice Anthony Kennedy stressed that the ban on disparaging trademarks was a clear form of viewpoint discrimination forbidden under the First Amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left in place a lower court's ruling that barred private citizens from suing OH for allegedly impeding their ability to vote by requiring ballot forms to be filled out perfectly.

The PTO denied the trademark citing the Lanham Act, a 71-year-old law that, in part, prohibits trademark protection for offensive names.

In his opinion for the court, Justice Samuel Alito rejected arguments that trademarks are government speech, not private speech.

In an email, Tam rejected the notion that upholding the gutted provision of the Lanham Act would hamper the Redskins' efforts to keep their name.

The team's appeal, also on free speech grounds, was put on hold in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, pending the outcome of The Slants' case.

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Snyder has repeatedly insisted he will not change the team's name despite continuing objections by Native Americans.

"I am THRILLED!" he said in a statement Monday morning.

The team's trademark registration was canceled in 2014 after decades of use.

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.

In an 8-0 decision, the court determined the US Patent and Trademark Office's so-called "disparagement clause" violates the First Amendment.

"A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all", Kennedy said in an opinion joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

New high court Justice Neil Gorsuch didn't take part in the case.

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.

In a filing Monday, the Justice Department defended the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board's decision previous year to strip the team of protections.

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