Asian-American Rock Band Fights to Trademark ‘Disparaging’ Name

Fox News, October 5, 2015

An Asian-American rock band called The Slants asked a federal appeals court last week to trademark its name even though the government says it disparages Asians.

The group argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Friday that it has a First Amendment right to trademark the name because offensive speech or ethnic slurs cannot be censored by the government, Reuters reported. The case is being watched closely because it could affect an appeal brought by the NFL’s Washington Redskins after its trademarks were canceled by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on the grounds that the team’s name disparaged Native Americans.

The Slants frontman Simon Tam told Reuters that while most people today believe “Redskins” is offensive, few Asian Americans believe “Slants” is. He said the band, which plays “Chinatown” dance rock, named itself The Slants as a way to reclaim the racial slur.

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During Friday’s oral arguments, the judges appeared evenly divided, with several expressing skepticism of the patent office’s powers to determine what is offensive, Reuters reported.

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