In Major Free Speech Victory, SCOTUS Rules for 'The Slants' and Strikes Down Federal Trademark Restriction | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


In Major Free Speech Victory, SCOTUS Rules for 'The Slants' and Strikes Down Federal Trademark Restriction

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-0 in favor of the Asian-American dance-rock band The Slants, holding that the First Amendment protects the rights of the band's members to register a trademark in their band's "offensive" name.

At issue in Matal v. Tam was a federal law prohibiting the registration of any trademark that may "disparage...or bring...into contemp[t] or disrepute" any "persons, living or dead." The Patent and Trademark Office cited this provision in 2011 when it refused to register a trademark in the name of The Slants, thereby denying the band the same protections that federal law extends to countless other musical acts. Justice Samuel Alito led the Court in striking down the censorious rule. "We now hold that this provision violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment," Alito wrote. "It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend."

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