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Scotus Strikes Down ban on Trademarks That Might Offend

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court struck down a law that the Obama administration tried to use to force the Washington Redskins to change their name.  It’s the 22nd unanimous decision that went against Obama.  Presidents through the Obama caliphate averaged a 70% success rate.  That’s 43 presidents.  Obama’s average was under 30%.  The case involved a band of the Asian rock band that named themselves the Slants.  But it’s the same law that was used to pull the Redskin’s copyright.

 In a decision likely to bolster the Washington Redskins’ efforts to protect its trademarks, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the government may not refuse to register potentially offensive names. A law denying protection to disparaging trademarks, the court said, violated the First Amendment.

The decision was unanimous, but the justices were divided on the reasoning.

The decision, concerning an Asian-American dance-rock band called the Slants, probably also means that the Washington Redskins football team will win its fight to retain federal trademark protection.

The law at issue in both cases denies federal trademark protection to messages that may disparage people, living or dead, along with “institutions, beliefs or national symbols.”

In 2015, a federal appeals court in Washington found the law’s disparagement provision unconstitutional in a case brought by the Slants. Writing for the majority in a 9-to-3 decision, Judge Kimberly A. Moore of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said that while some of the rejected trademarks “convey hurtful speech that harms members of oft-stigmatized communities,” the First Amendment “protects even hurtful speech.”

H/T NYT

 

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