September 30, 2016

The Supreme Court will hear a First Amendment challenge to the denial of a trademark to a band named The Slants.

The Patent and Trademark Office relied on the provision in the federal statute against registering trademarks that disparage "institutions, beliefs or national symbols."

The Slants won in the Court of Appeals, but agreed that the Supreme Court should take the case because of the importance of the question* (which is the same question that arises in the case involving the Washington Redskins).

The Slants also argue that he government is inconsistent, have rejected and granted trademarks on the names “Heeb,” “Dago,” “Injun” and “Squaw.” They also say that their intent is not to disparage, but to reclaim a term that others have used to disparage — the way some gay people use "queer."

The Redskins make the same argument: They mean the term in a positive way. Whose perspective matters?
______________________

 * It's also great publicity for the group. They don't need to register their trademark to be permitted to use the name. That's the government's argument: We follow our standards, and we're not going to support what you are doing, but we won't interfere with you. Even if The Slants lose in the end, after winning in the court below, they will have greatly elevated their profile in this world and it will infuse their trademark with more power than any mere registration could impart.

29 comments:

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...the federal statute against registering trademarks that disparage "institutions, beliefs or national symbols."

Are slanting eyes an institution?
Are they a belief?
Are they a national symbol?

MadisonMan said...

Sounds like a perfect opportunity for the Court -- or some portion of it -- to tell us how to be more mindful and virtuous.

Curious George said...

They don't sound like The Slants. Maybe that's the problem?

Bob Boyd said...

They have a CD called 'The Yellow Album' and another called 'Something Slanted This Way Comes'

Hagar said...

How does the Patent Office propose to keep up with what terms are deemed disparaging?

rhhardin said...

The slants will be japped in the supreme court.

jaydub said...

Maybe a compromise name such as "The Slopes" would be less controverial.

Laslo Spatula said...

Please don't take away my "Cheese Nips."

I am The Replacement Laslo.

RNB said...

Greg Bear published a science fiction novel back in 2014 titled 'Slant.' Guess he couldn't do that nowadays.

Bob Boyd said...

@ Laslo

The Slants are Asian-American. The Cheese Nips are crackers.

Laslo Spatula said...

Bob Boyd said...
@ Laslo

"The Slants are Asian-American. The Cheese Nips are crackers."

Brilliant.


I am The Replacement Laslo.

Mike Sylwester said...

Scientific Progressives are constantly looking for ways to make racism accusations against other people.

That's what they do.

tim in vermont said...

I would have said 'confer', not 'impart.'

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

The internet informs me that "The Mongoloids" has already been taken.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

So, apparently, is "The Retards."

Michael The Magnificent said...

Slants? Never heard the term before. I've heard Slopes, though.

Laslo Spatula said...

Pete Townsend had an album called "All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes".

I am The Replacement Laslo.


Laslo Spatula said...

I knew a girl who was part Japanese when the weather was cold, because when the weather was cold her breasts would be Nippon.

Oh yeah.


I am The Replacement Laslo.

Bob Boyd said...

Laslo Spatula said...
Pete Townsend had an album called "All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes".


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx0zC22C4RM

Art in LA said...

December 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor, HI) ... "cloudy, mostly over the mountains ... expect a nip in the air."

Who keeps track of disparaging terms and phrases in bureaucracies, anyway? I wonder if I, someone of Asian descent, could get a California license plate that says "SLANT" ... maybe I played American football, in a football costume, and that was my favorite pass route.

John said...

RNB,

I just finished reading, almost in one sitting, Greg Bear's "War Dogs". I'd never heard of him until Insty mentioned him the other day, downloaded the sample and blew right though the entire book finishing last night about 2AM. I think he is my new favorite SF author.

But could he get away with calling Skyrenes "dogs" these days? Do the US Marines still call themselves "Devil Dogs"? How is that acceptable in todayspeak?

A bit off topic: A Marine NCO or Officer (rank unclear) just got bounced on a general discharge for making his boots (recruits) sing the Marine Corpse Hymn. A general discharge is less than an honorable discharge, though it is not a dishonorable discharge.

https://twitter.com/GlomarResponder/status/781532099434217472/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

I misspelled it corpse on purpose. It seems like these days it is only the corpse of "The few, the proud, the Marines"

John Henry

mikee said...

There used to be a website, www.proteinwisdom.com, where a conservative/libertarian guy named Jeff Goldstein, an expert in inguistics and hermeneutics, made the simple point that allowing other's interpretation of one's words to supercede one's own intention was a major problem in modern life.

Example: "Run them over." tweeted by Glen Reynolds, in response to motorists trapped in cars by violent rioters calling 911 for help. In the situation under discussion, it was sound advice. SJWs tried to use the tweet, in a purposefully misunderstood way, to indict the Instapundit for racist genocidal tendencies and for hurting their feeeeeeeeeeelings. His Law School Dean wrote both an idiotic condemnatory message announcing and investigation of Reynolds, and an announcement of the end of the investigation. Both were prime examples of mis-assumption of the meaning of his words, without any justification. A tidal wave of counter-attack on the SJWs got them to back off, but their chilling effect on protected speech remains.

Punch back twice as hard. Just because someone is offended is no reason to stop speaking freely; in fact, that idea is enshrined in Supreme Court precedent as the illegitimate "heckler's veto," which is expressly forbidden in 1st Amendment issues.

Bill said...

There's a magazine for Jewish hipsters called Heeb: The New Jew Review.

Michael The Magnificent said...

Example: "Run them over." tweeted by Glen Reynolds, in response to motorists trapped in cars by violent rioters calling 911 for help.

Please keep in mind that the minimum speed on the freeway is 45 MPH, and stopping is only permitted in the emergency lane.

Corky Boyd said...

The supreme court will uphold the lower court. The last thing they want is to have the burden of deciding what is offensive and what is not. The FCC has dropped its forbidden words. The Slants and the Redskins will prevail.

boycat said...

First Amendment-wise, content regulation, especially viewpoint content regulation, is indubitably a dubious thing for the government to do.

Mark said...

The government has no business determining what speech is "disparaging" and which is not.

HT said...

South Park did something very cutting and funny on the Redskins name.

David in Cal said...

Of course, "Redskins" is positive. You wouldn't choose a name for yourself that's negative. That's why there's no team called the San Francisco Jerks, or the New York Weaklings.