The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a federal trademark law banning offensive names is unconstitutional, siding with a rock band whose name had been deemed racially disparaging by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
In an 8-0 ruling, the court determined the law’s so-called “disparagement clause” violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment.
The case centered on Oregon-based, Asian-American band The Slants, which was denied a trademark because its name was considered offensive. The band countered that the 70-year-old law at issue violates free-speech rights -- and Justice Samuel Alito, in the court’s opinion, agreed.
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