Jus­tices say gov­ern­ment can’t refuse dis­parag­ing trade­marks

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - BUSINESS -

WASH­ING­TON - The Supreme Court says the gov­ern­ment can’t refuse to register trade­marks that are con­sid­ered of­fen­sive.

The rul­ing Mon­day is a win for an Asian-amer­i­can rock band called the Slants and it gives a ma­jor boost to the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins in their sep­a­rate le­gal fight over the team name.

The jus­tices said part of a law that bars the gov­ern­ment from reg­is­ter­ing dis­parag­ing trade­marks vi­o­lates free speech rights.

The Slants tried to trade­mark the name in 2011, but the U.S. Patent and Trade­mark Of­fice de­nied the re­quest on the ground that the name dis­par­ages Asians.

A fed­eral ap­peals court in Wash­ing­ton later said the law bar­ring of­fen­sive trade­marks is un­con­sti­tu­tional. The Red­skins made sim­i­lar ar­gu­ments after the trade­mark of­fice can­celled the team’s trade­mark in 2015.

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