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On September 29, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to revisit a controversial issue surrounding the federal government’s ban on offensive trademarks, specifically whether this ban violates free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Federal Circuit ruled on December 22, 2015 that the seventy-year old disparagement clause of the Lanham Act (quoted below) was in fact unconstitutional since the First Amendment forbids the government from banning offensive speech. At issue here is the desire for an Asian-American Rock Band from Portland, Oregon to trademark the name of their band, THE SLANTS, for “Entertainment in the nature of live performances by a musical band,” in order to “reclaim” and “take ownership” of Asian stereotypes.

This post was originally published on the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal website on October 18, 2016. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.

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