Offensive Trademarks are Unconstitutional

The United States Supreme Court struck down a 71 year old trademark law when it held that a ban on offensive trademarks is unconstitutional because it violated the 1St amendment. An Asian-American rock band called Slants prompted the Supreme Court’s decision after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found the band name to be offensive and denied their trademark request because it disparaged Asians. In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court held that the denial of the trademark infringed on the band’s 1st amendment right to freedom of speech. This hold is significant because it defends the right of free speech for citizens, which is one of the most imperative civil liberties laid out in the Bill of Rights. The Washington Redskins will benefit from this ruling. The Redskins are currently awaiting for an appeal to be heard on their trademark case about the Redskin mascot. Native American Indians have stated that the Redskin mascot is a derogatory racial slur; however, based off of the Supreme Court’s decision, the Redskin’s case is effectively resolved. This holding could be significant for the future of trademark decisions made by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office as well, and can allow for much more freedom when filing for a trademark some would see as disparaging.