Ruling Could Help Washington Redskins in Trademark Case

14135683605_a5650500d5_mJust days before the Winter Holidays, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. declared that the first Amendment “forbids government regulators to deny registration [of trademark ] because they find the speech is likely to offend others”. This ruling came in response to a petition by an Asian-American rock band that had previously tried, unsuccessfully, to register the name “The Slants”.

For many Washingtonians who have been following the debate over the city’s controversial name of the local football team, this recent ruling has sent off a tidal wave of emotions, ranging from relief to rage. On the 9th of January 2016, the Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Jacqueline Pata, spoke to the American Name Society on the use of racist and derogatory names by US American sports franchises.

ANS member Laura Heymann, from William & Mary Law School, mentioned this specific ruling in her talk “Naming and Reclaiming”, which she presented at the ANS annual meeting on the 10th of January 2016. She also covers it in a guest post on the Technology & Marketing Law Blog.