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Supreme Courts say Redskins Trademark cannot be prohibited

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Supreme Courts say Redskins Trademark cannot be prohibited

Postby Aloha Nole » June 19th, 2017, 3:57 pm

A-freakin'- men. About time someone stood up and said enough is enough.

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Justices Strike Down Law Banning Disparaging Trademarks
By ADAM LIPTAKJUNE 19, 2017

WASHINGTON — In a decision likely to bolster the Washington Redskins’ efforts to protect its trademarks, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the government may not refuse to register potentially offensive names. A law denying protection to disparaging trademarks, the court said, violated the First Amendment.

The decision was unanimous, but the justices were divided on the reasoning.

The decision, concerning an Asian-American dance-rock band called the Slants, probably also means that the Washington Redskins football team will win its fight to retain federal trademark protection.

The law at issue in both cases denies federal trademark protection to messages that may disparage people, living or dead, along with “institutions, beliefs or national symbols.”

In 2015, a federal appeals court in Washington found the law’s disparagement provision unconstitutional in a case brought by the Slants. Writing for the majority in a 9-to-3 decision, Judge Kimberly A. Moore of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said that while some of the rejected trademarks “convey hurtful speech that harms members of oft-stigmatized communities,” the First Amendment “protects even hurtful speech.”

Supreme Court decisions in recent years have protected offensive speech, including hateful protests at military funerals, depictions of animal cruelty and lies about military honors. More generally, the court said in 2015 in Reed v. Town of Gilbert that laws “that target speech based on its communicative content” were “presumptively unconstitutional.”

On the other hand, the Supreme Court has said that the First Amendment falls out of the analysis when the government is not acting as a censor, but is merely choosing what speech to adopt or support. In 2015, in a 5-to-4 decision in Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, the court ruled that Texas could refuse to allow specialty license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag because the plates were the government’s speech and were thus immune from attacks on First Amendment grounds.

The Slants said they did not intend to disparage anyone. Instead, they said, they sought to adopt and reform a disparaging term about Asians, much as some gay people have embraced the term “queer.”

The government has applied the law inconsistently when faced with trademarks based on ethnic slurs. It has, for instance, both registered and rejected trademarks for the terms “Heeb,” “Dago,” “Injun” and “Squaw.”

In the Redskins case, the trademark office registered the team’s trademarks in 1967, 1974, 1978 and 1990. In 2014, though, it reversed course and canceled six registrations, saying they disparaged Native Americans.

The team lost before a trial judge in Virginia and appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, also in Virginia. The appeals court put the case aside while the Supreme Court considered the Slants case, Matal v. Tam, No. 15-1293.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/us/p ... &smtyp=cur
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Re: Supreme Courts say Redskins Trademark cannot be prohibit

Postby Domer » June 22nd, 2017, 2:02 pm

Aloha Nole wrote:A-freakin'- men. About time someone stood up and said enough is enough.

Agree 100%.
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