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The Journal Gazette

  • FILE - In this April 4, 2017 file, the Supreme Court in Washington. The Supreme Court says the government can't refuse to register trademarks that are considered offensive.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Monday, June 19, 2017 10:40 am

Justices say government can't refuse disparaging trademarks

SAM HANANEL | Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court says the government can't refuse to register trademarks that are considered offensive.

The ruling Monday is a win for an Asian-American rock band called the Slants and it gives a major boost to the Washington Redskins in their separate legal fight over the team name.

The justices said part of a law that bars the government from registering disparaging trademarks violates free speech rights.

The Slants tried to trademark the name in 2011, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied the request on the ground that the name disparages Asians. A federal appeals court in Washington later said the law barring offensive trademarks is unconstitutional.

The Redskins made similar arguments after the trademark office canceled the team's trademark in 2015.