Supreme Court 8-0 upholds offensive trademarks as form of private free speech

Supreme Court upholds offensive trademarks as form of free speech

The Slants a Portland Oregon band wins.

“The decision was a victory for an Asian American dance rock band dubbed The Slants — and, in all likelihood, for the Washington Redskins, whose trademarks were cancelled in 2014 following complaints from Native Americans.

While defending the First Amendment’s freedom of speech protection, the justices did not remove all discretion from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But they raised the bar for trademark denials so that names deemed to be offensive but not hateful can survive.

“It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for a unanimous court.

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