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Redskins' trademark usage boosted by Supreme Court ruling

Redskins' trademark usage boosted by Supreme Court ruling

In Matal v. Tam, the justices voted 8-0 to side with Simon Tam, the leader of a Portland, Oregon-based dance-rock band called the Slants.

The Washington Redskins got a big boon to its fight to keep its trademarks after a Supreme Court ruling for a rock band.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on trademarks could help the Washington Redskins overturn a Patent and Trademark Office decision that said the team's name is offfensive and cannot be trademarked. Justice Samuel Alito had this to say in explaining that federally-protected trademarks aren't messages from Uncle Sam: "I$3 f trademarks represent government speech, what does the Government have in mind when it advises Americans to "make.believe" (Sony), "Think different" (Apple), "Just do it" (Nike), or "Have it your way" (Burger King)?"

"Holding that the registration of a trademark converts the mark into government speech would constitute a huge and unsafe extension of the government-speech doctrine, for other systems of government registration (such as copyright) could easily be characterized in the same way", Justice Samuel Alito wrote.

But while The Slants' stand came about from an attempt to depower a common slur on their ethnicity, it may have possibly unintended consequences for other cases now facing USA courts, most notably that of the Washington Redskins.

The case has far-reaching implications, most notably in the on-going legal battle by the Washington Redskins to secure a trademark for its controversial team name, the Washington Post reported.

The team celebrated the decision in a statement and Redskins owner Dan Snyder was thrilled.

Canada plans military spending boost, addressing United States pressure
Mattis said the new policy demonstrates Canada's resolve to build additional military capacity and a more capable fighting force. David Perry, defense analyst at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said he was pleasantly surprised by the spending plans.

"The Supreme Court vindicated the team's position that the First Amendment blocks the government from denying or cancelling a trademark registration based on the government's opinion", Redskins lawyer Lisa Blatt said in a statement to the Associated Press. Courts had long ruled that it didn't violate the First Amendment because it doesn't actually bar the real-life use of the offending mark, nor does it prevent the owner from enforcing common law trademark rights.

Summary: The Supreme Court has ruled that disparaging terms can be trademarked. Technically, they're still free to use the name without trademark protection, but that legal security is crucial for a multibillion-dollar sports franchise. A legal scholar tried to explain the difference this way: "The Roberts court", he said, "is very pro-speech except when the institutional interests of the government are at issue".

The team's appeal, also on free speech grounds, was put on hold in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, pending the outcome of The Slants' case.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who joined the court in April, was not on the bench for oral arguments in the case, so he did not vote.

The court's ruling in an unrelated case struck down part of the trademark law that bars a trademark on disparaging or offensive terms.

While the organization has insisted that its name is not offensive, this recent ruling of the Supreme Court protects even offensive names.

A statement issued in the name of Blackhorse and four other Native American petitioners called the high court's ruling narrow: "It focused exclusively on whether the disparagement provision of the law was constitutional".


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