The Slants, still at bat

From several sources recently, news of the battle by the band The Slants to register their name for trademark protection in the U.S. Here’s an NPR story, “Asian-American Band Fights To Trademark Name ‘The Slants’ “, and a brief thoughtful piece “The Slants v, the USPTO” by Mark Liberman on Language Log.

The Slants have been up against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for some four years now (an earlier report appeared on this blog here). At issue is a U.S. statute that bars granting registration to a name that “consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter”; USPTO objects to “Slants” on the ground that it is a disparaging term for people of Asian descent. The band has taken various legal tacks over the years; the current case (in a federal circuit court) relies on appealing to the First Amendment, arguing that the USPTO rulings deny the benefits of trademark on the basis of the content of the Slants’ speech.

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