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Monday, 19 June 2017 13:29

Supreme Court: Rejecting trademarks that ‘disparage’ others violates the First Amendment

Written by  Robert Barnes

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a law that prohibits the government from registering trademarks that “disparage” others violates the First Amendment, a decision that could impact the Washington Redskins’ efforts to hang on to its controversial name.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. delivered the opinion for a largely united court. He said the law could not be saved just because it evenhandedly prohibits disparagement of all groups.

“That is viewpoint discrimination in the sense relevant here: Giving offense is a viewpoint,” Alito wrote.

He added that the disparagement clause in the law “offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”

All of the participating justices — Neil M. Gorsuch was not on the court when the case was argued — joined that part of Alito’s opinion. Four justices peeled off from parts of the opinion where they say Alito opined on more than what was needed to decide the case.

The trademark office in 2011 said registering the trademark of the Slants, an Asian American rock group, would violate a part of the 1946 Lanham Trademark Act that prohibits registration of a trademark that “may disparage .

Read more at WashingtonPost

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