“The Slants” Win on Free Speech

In Matal v. Tam, the Supreme Court handed down an important First Amendment decision. This case dealt with a band’s application for federal trademark registration of the band’s name, “The Slants.” The Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) denied the application based on 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), which prohibits the registration of trademarks that may “disparage . . . or bring . . . into contemp[t] or disrepute” any “persons, living or dead.” The PTO denied the application because “Slants” is a derogatory term for persons of Asian descent. All the band members are Asian-Americans and believed that by taking that slur as

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