Published September 29, 2016
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court, the nation’s highest court, announced this morning it will hear a case to determine whether a federal law that bars registration of disparaging trademarks violates speech. While the lawsuit the court will hear was not brought by the opponents of the R-word or the NFL team, this case will directly impact whether or not the Washington NFL team’s usage of the R-word.
Most American Indians consider the R-word and compare it to the N-word that African Americans consider racist in nature.
The case the court will hear will determine whether part of the 1946 Lanham Trademark Act that prohibits registration of a trademark that “may disparage” persons violates the First Amendment. An appeals court has already ruled it does. as an appeals court has ruled.
The case involves a lawsuit brought by Simon Shiao Tam, who has a Asian American rock band called The Slants. Tam was refused registration of the name by the U.S. Office of Patent and Trademark Office when he tried to register the band’s trademark.
The Washington NFL team’s trademark was canceled in 2014 by the U.S. Office of Patent and Trademark Office. The team took the cancellation to a federal district court that concurred with the decision to cancel the team’s usage of the R-word. The team is awaiting a hearing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond.
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