Wednesday, January 18, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court justices fret over offensive trademarks; Reuters, 1/18/17

Andrew Chung, Reuters; 

U.S. Supreme Court justices fret over offensive trademarks

"The justices during the arguments seemed to agree with the band that the government was favoring some trademarks while disapproving others, a kind of discrimination based on viewpoint traditionally forbidden by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees free speech.

But the justices appeared to struggle over whether banning offensive slurs is reasonable in the trademark system, which is used to promote commerce.

Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy asked the band's attorney, John Connell, whether a group of non-Asians using the name The Slants to mock Asians could be denied a trademark. Connell said they could not.

Kennedy questioned whether the trademark system should be considered like a public park "where you can say anything you want.

In rejecting The Slants' trademark, government officials relied on a provision of the 1946 Lanham Act that prevents the registration of marks that may disparage certain people."

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