• Supreme Court sides with band the Slants and strikes down law banning offensive trademarks

    The Supreme Court extended trademark protection to words and names that may be offensive, ruling Monday that the 1st Amendment right to free speech allows an Asian American band to call itself the Slants.

    The unanimous decision will also likely preserve the trademarked and controverisial name of the Redskins, Washington’s pro-football team.

    In recent years, such trademarked names have come under attack as racially offensive. But in Monday’s decision, the high court struck down part of a 1946 federal law that barred trademarks that may “disparage” people or groups.

    The justices said this provision violates “a bedrock 1st Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend,” said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. He said trademarks are “private speech,” not the government speaking. And as such, the law may not punish words or expressions simply because they are offensive.

    “We have said time and time again that the ‘public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers,’” Alito said in the case of Matal vs Tam.

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    Credits: Associated Press / Christian K. Lee / Getty / KTLA / Allen J. Schaben

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    Credits: Mark Boster / Getty / KTLA

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