The government cannot ban so-called offensive trademarks

| Jun 20, 2017 | Trademark Law

What do the Washington Redskins and the Slants—an Asian-American rock band—have in common? They both have names considered offensive by many Americans and government offices. You probably have already heard about the widespread controversy surrounding the Redskins, but news about the Slants might be new to you and other readers.

Another thing they have in common is that the Supreme Court is firmly on their side regarding their choice of names. On Monday, the Court ruled that “the government can’t block trademarks on the basis that they’re offensive.” For football fans in Washington, this is wonderful news and it probably pleases the Slants and their fan base as well.

California is home to many creative people and groups who want the freedom to select the trademarks they want regardless of whether it might offend some people. The First Amendment gave the nation the freedom of speech and the Supreme Court made the correct move when it decided to uphold this right.

Citing the free speech protection of the First Amendment, the Court found that if the Patent and Trademark Office discriminates against so-called offensive names, it would be deemed unconstitutional. When it comes to trademark law, this is a boon for all who want the freedom to choose words, phrases, sounds and other items to use as a trademark.

These two trademark law cases serve as excellent examples of the complexities involved with acquiring a trademark. For those who are experiencing obstacles in acquiring a trademark or who simply want to explore ways to protect their existing trademarks, consulting with a trademark law attorney can offer many legal solutions.

Source:, “Supreme Court pushes Redskins’ name fight back to society,” June 20, 2017