nytimes.com - 6 days ago
Justices Strike Down Law Banning Disparaging Trademarks
The court's decision probably means that the Washington Redskins football team will win its fight to retain federal trademark protection.
WASHINGTON — The government may not deny trademark registration to disparaging terms, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday in an important statement on the meaning of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The decision was unanimous, but the justices were divided on the reasoning. The decision, concerning an Asian-American dance-rock band called the Slants, probably also means that the Washington Redskins football team will win its fight to retain federal trademark protection. The Run-Up The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign. The law at issue in both cases denies federal trademark protection to messages that may disparage people, living or dead, along with “institutions, beliefs or national symbols.” In 2015, a federal appeals court in Washington found the law’s disparagement provision unconstitutional in a case brought by the Slants. Writing for the majority in a 9-to-3 decision, Judge Kimberly A. Moore of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said that while some of the rejected trademarks “convey hurtful speech that harms members of oft-stigmatized communities,” the First Amendment “protects even hurtful speech.”
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