Rock Band Challenging Law Barring Registration of Disparaging Trademarks

Justin Farooq

On January 18, 2017 a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court looked to be amenable to arguments by a rock band that is challenging the federal law that bans the registration of disparaging trademarks.

The petitioners in this case are the Slants, an Asian-American band who claims the ban violates the First Amendment. According to reports by the Washington Post, New York Times and USA Today, members of the Supreme Court looked skeptical of the law during oral arguments.  The reaction is likely good for the Washington Redskins, a NFL team whose trademark was revoked due to the fact that its name is disparaging to Native Americans.  The Slants assert that they are using the name to regain an offensive term about Asians and use it “as a badge of pride.”

[1] Debra Cassens Weiss, Supreme Court Appears Skeptical of Law Barring Registration of Disparaging Trademarks, ABA Journal (Jan. 18, 2007, 4:44 PM CST),

[2] See Robert Barnes, Can Disparaging Trademarks be Denied? The Supreme Court is Skeptical, The Washington Post (Jan. 18, 2017),

[3] Adam Liptak, Justices Appear Willing to Protect Offensive Trademarks, New York Times (Jan. 18, 2017),

[4] Richard Wolf, Justices Dubious About Government Denials of ‘Derogatory’ Trademarks, USA Today (Jan. 18, 2017, 3:31 PM),

[5] Tony Mauro, In ‘Slants’ Case, Justices Skeptical of Ban on Disparaging Trademarks, (Jan. 18, 2017),

[6] Weiss, supra note 1.