U.S.

Justices say law on offensive trademarks is unconstitutional

Justices say law on offensive trademarks is unconstitutional

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder said Monday that he is "thrilled" with the Supreme Court's decision to strike down part of a trademark law that banned offensive terms, in what was hailed as a victory in the team's fight to keep its name.

In the written opinion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote, "We now hold that this provision violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment". The First Amendment doesn't apply to "government speech", in which case the feds should be free to grant or deny trademarks based on offensiveness or "disparagement" as they see fit.

In the separate Redskins case, a trademark board in 2014 canceled the team's six trademarks at the request of Native American activists on grounds that the team name disparaged Native Americans. The Trademark Office can deny any trademark that alludes to "immoral deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which way disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs or national symbols, or bring them unto contempt, or disrepute".

"After an excruciating legal battle that has spanned almost eight years", the band said in a prepared statement, "we're beyond humbled and thrilled to have won this case at the Supreme Court".

The Redskins have had their own troubles with the United States Trademark and Patent Office that has resulted in ongoing legal action.

The Washington Redskins Attorney Lisa Blatt said the team was "thrilled" with the decision.

Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court after arguments were heard in the case and did not participate in the decision.

The band's application to trademark its name was denied by the PTO in 2011.




Critics of the law said the trademark office has been wildly inconsistent over the years in deciding what terms are too offensive to warrant trademark protection.

"The disparagement clause violates the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause", Justice Alito explained in his Matal v. Tam opinion. Their case was based off First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.

The U.S. Supreme Court stands in Washington, D.C., on May 18, 2015.

Even after the trademark office's ruling, the team would still have been able to use the name - it just would not have had trademark protection, meaning anyone could have sold merchandise using the name.

Ronald Coleman is a partner at Archer and Greiner, the law firm that represented the band before the Supreme Court.

Registration of a trademark provides a nationwide defense against others who would try to use it.

The Supreme Court has upheld negative speech in recent years, even when it involved distasteful protests at military funerals or disgusting "animal crush" videos.


  • Pakistan army mocks India after Champions Trophy victory

    Pakistan army mocks India after Champions Trophy victory

    Lauding Pakistani batsmen, the great cricketer said that they played every ball the way, it deserved. Fakhar Zaman's innings and Hassan Ali's spell with the ball played crucial roles in the win.
    Dustin Johnson misses cut at US Open — Major Surprise

    Dustin Johnson misses cut at US Open — Major Surprise

    Open do for him? Hideki Matsuyama vaulted into contention with a 7-under 65, moving to 5 under and a tie for eighth. The last time Day missed a cut in a major was the 2012 PGA Championship, just a month after his son was born.
    LeBron James: Cleveland Cavaliers will continue building toward NBA Championship

    LeBron James: Cleveland Cavaliers will continue building toward NBA Championship

    The Cavaliers would benefit from adding another star player to the roster, but one of their biggest weaknesses is their bench . Golden State Warriors were simply too strong this year and they ran over the #Cleveland Cavaliers in just five games.
  • Prince Harry put a ring on it! Kind of

    Prince Harry put a ring on it! Kind of

    The source claimed that Meghan really likes this, as she actually feels closer to her boyfriend when she has a jewelry from him. Prince Harry's first gift to Meghan Markle was a blue and white bracelet, which she's sometimes seen wearing on her left hand.
    Hung parliament alliance between Labour and the SNP is branded 'nonsense'

    Hung parliament alliance between Labour and the SNP is branded 'nonsense'

    And Scotland is on course for a very strong turnout with 72% of people saying they will definitely vote in the election. In those seats we are the people that can change the direction of this country.
    Kiwi slips as demand for greenback grows

    Kiwi slips as demand for greenback grows

    The common currency was steady at $1.11965 (EUR=EBS), retaining Friday's 0.5 percent gain. US passenger vehicle sales fell 9.8 percent in May from a year earlier.
  • Clovis Oncology's 45% Pre-Market Surge, Explained

    Clovis Oncology's 45% Pre-Market Surge, Explained

    Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 203,583 shares in the company, valued at $9,647,798.37. The fund owned 972,696 shares of the biopharmaceutical company's stock after selling 647,659 shares during the period.
    Koepka's trip around the world leads to major title at home

    Koepka's trip around the world leads to major title at home

    Fowler took the lead on Thursday with a 7-under 65, tying the lowest score to par in the first round of the U.S. Matsuyama and third-round co-leader Brian Harman tied for second at 12 under par, four strokes behind Koepka.
    California wildfire: Voluntary evacuations ordered in Big Bear

    California wildfire: Voluntary evacuations ordered in Big Bear

    The Pacific Crest Trail was closed west of Highway 18, as well as Van Dunsen Road and Holcomb Valley Road East at Highway 18. The fire was reported just after 3 p.m. off Holcomb Valley Road north of Highway 18 and quickly required air support.
  • 10 injured after van plows into crowd near London Mosque

    It is believed that the man, who is said to live in Wales, was originally from Somerset, namely Weston-super-Mare. The driver, a 48-year-old man, was grabbed at the scene by locals and pinned down until police arrived.
    Delay in reporting of deadly US destroyer collision raises questions

    Delay in reporting of deadly US destroyer collision raises questions

    After interviewing Filipino crew members, the Coast Guard changed the collision time to 1:30 a.m. The Navy saying the bodies of the 7 American sailors killed in the crash have been recovered.
    Iran launches missiles into eastern Syria

    Iran launches missiles into eastern Syria

    The missile attack on Syria was Iran's first strike outside its own territory in almost 30 years, the Times of Israel reported . The attack also sends a clear warning signal to Saudi Arabia which has been trying for some time to test Iran's patience.