The case involves an Asian-American dance-rock band called the Slants, but it also has implications for the Washington Redskins.
The Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to decide whether a federal law that denies protection to disparaging trademarks can survive First Amendment scrutiny. The case, concerning an Asian-American dance-rock band called the Slants, will probably also effectively resolve a separate one concerning the Washington Redskins football team.
The trademark case was one of eight the justices chose from among the hundreds of petitions seeking review that had piled up over the summer. Other new cases added to the docket concerned deportations, students with disabilities, and criminal fines.
The trademark disputes started when the Patent and Trademark Office denied protection to the band and the team under part of a federal law, the Lanham Act, that bans federal registration of trademarks that disparage, among others, “institutions, beliefs or national symbols.” Last year, in the Slants case, a federal appeals court in Washington found the Lanham Act’s disparagement provision unconstitutional.