Asian-American band win top court case over offensive trademark

The US Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of an Asian-American band calling themselves The Slants, who had been denied the right to trademark their name because it was deemed a racial slur.

The Supreme Court case involving The Slants focused on the rights of free speech enshrined in the US constitution, at a time of heightened racial tensions © (AFP)

The Supreme Court case involving The Slants focused on the rights of free speech enshrined in the US constitution, at a time of heightened racial tensions © (AFP)

The US Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of an Asian-American band calling themselves The Slants, who had been denied the right to trademark their name because it was deemed a racial slur.

The move is expected also to work in favor of the Washington Redskins, the football team whose controversial name has been attacked as racist by Native American groups and whose trademarks were cancelled as a result.

The Supreme Court decided that the US Patent and Trademark Office could not refuse the Portland, Oregon-based band the right to trademark the name, generally seen as a racial slur on Asians but which the group's founder, Simon Tam, had said was an act of "re-appropriation."

Tam likened the use of the word to African-Americans using the highly charged racist term "nigger" in their music.

The case has drawn intense interest as it focused on the rights of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment of the US constitution, at a time of heightened racial tensions in the country.

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