Justices say government can’t refuse disparaging trademarks

FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2014 file photo, the Washington Redskins logo is seen on the field before an NFL football preseason game in Landover, Md. As the Washington Redskins defend their federal trademark registration, they argue in court papers that the government has registered plenty of companies with offensive names. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – 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 a 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.

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