Supreme Court's Offensive Trademarks Decision is Good News for Washington Redskins
The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a law banning offensive trademarks is unconstitutional, which is good news for the Washington Redskins in their legal battle over the NFL team's name.
The decision came in a case involving an Asian-American rock band called The Slants, with the high court ruling unanimously that the 71-year-old trademark law that bars disparaging terms violates free speech rights. The Slants were denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when they tried to trademark the band's name on the grounds that it disparages Asians.
The Redskins similarly took legal action when the trademark office ruled in 2014 that the team's name is offensive to Native Americans and canceled their trademark. That case is currently before a federal appeals court and had been on hold pending the Supreme Court's decision in the Slants case. Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who contends that the team's name expresses "honor, respect and pride" for Native Americans, tweeted after yesterday's ruling: "I am THRILLED. Hail to the Redskins."
Native American groups who oppose the Redskins' name said in a statement, "If the NFL wants to live up to its statements about placing importance on equality, then it shouldn't hide behind these rulings, but should act to the end this hateful and degrading slur."