California music fans may be interested to learn about an ongoing legal battle involving a West Coast band called The Slants. The Asian-American rock band has been fighting to trademark its name after the United States Patent and Trademark Office refused to issue it a trademark. While some people view the band's name as disparaging, the band says that it has a right to trademark its name.
At a hearing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C. that took place on Oct. 2, a lawyer for The Slants argued that the band's First Amendment rights of free speech have been violated. The leader of the band said that the U.S. Trademark Office should not be allowed to make view-based restrictions on trademarks.
According to comments from The Slants' front man, the band hopes to win its case so that free speech will be expanded. Some people have connected The Slants' trademark case with the Washington Redskins football team's fight to trademark its name. While The Slants' front man said that he does not think the two cases are intrinsically linked, he said that he would not be bothered if the Redskins team regained some of its trademarks.
Choosing a name is an important part of starting any new business. To avoid legal problems or trademark denial, a business founder may want to select a name that is unique and not directly related to the products or services that they are selling. An attorney may be able to talk to a business founder about potential names and help them to secure trademarks.
Source: NBC News, "Asian-American Rock Band Argues First Amendment in Trademark Battle," Emil Guillermo, Oct. 6, 2015