Redskins are 'thrilled' by Supreme Court's ruling on disparaging trademarks

The Slants are Ken Shima left Simon

In doing so it struck down part of a 71-year-old law that banned "disparaging" trademarks, unanimously ruling that such trademarks should be permitted, because the US Constitution's First Amendment "protects even hurtful speech".

"The disparagement clause violates the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause", Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion for the court according to NPR.

The federal government had also canceled the Redskins trademarks in 2014 after Native Americans complained the team's name disparages them.

Therefore, the court ruled, the disparagement part of the trademark law, a provision in effect since 1946, is unconstitutional.

This outcome in Matal v. Tam is a victory for the Asian American rock band The Slants. That case, before a federal appeals court in Richmond, had been on hold while the Supreme Court considered the Slants case. Organizer Simon Tam said the name is intended "to take on stereotypes that people have about us, like the slanted eyes, and own them".

After the verdict was announced, the team and its brazen owner Daniel Snyder celebrated the newly endowed constitutional protections granted to their racist nickname.

"I am THRILLED", he explained. "Hail to the Redskins". But just as the Indians receive blowback for Chief Wahoo and schools like the University of North Dakota, Miami of OH and others moved away from Native American mascots, public opinion won't simply sway one direction because of the Supreme Court's decision. Without trademark protections, the Redskins faced the prospect of legal pirating of their name and logos.

Charlie Sheen sued again for exposing former girlfriend to HIV
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It is not popular and inoffensive speech that needs to be protected from censoring. While he did state in his opinion that the government "has an interest in preventing speech expressing ideas that offend", he did so by definitely stating that these cases do not apply to what is a narrow application.

"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", writes Kennedy.

Justice Neil Gorsuch did not rule on the case as he was not on the court when the case was argued.

This decision has implications for a high-profile trademark case involving the Washington Redskins. The government argued that granting a trademark to The Slants effectively constituted a subsidy - citing a line of cases going back decades, they argued that the government is not required to sponsor or underwrite expression. It has, for instance, both registered and rejected trademarks for the terms "Heeb", "Dago", "Injun" and "Squaw".

But some anxious about what kinds of trademarks the government will now be forced to register.

One of the biggest winners of this decision is the Washington Redskins.

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