The Slants win court battle, can trademark name

The Portland based band was originally denied a trademark on their name

Asian- American band The Slants (
Asian- American band The Slants (

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of The Slants Tuesday, a Portland based band, allowing the band to trademark its name.

The court says the government can’t refuse to register trademarks that might be considered disparaging or offensive.

The court sided with an Asian-American rock band called The Slants, which challenged a ruling from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that refused to give the name legal protection.

Judge Kimberly Moore said the First Amendment protects “even hurtful speech” and said the ruling may lead to the broader approval of trademarks “that offend vulnerable communities.”

Earlier this year, The Slants lost a court battle when the federal appeals court refused to overturn a decision by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office to not grant a trademark on their name. The band appealed that decision.

The Slants, an Asian-American band, filed a petition to trademark its name in 2006. The office declined to trademark, saying the name is disparaging.

Simon Tam, the bass player and manager of the "Chinatown Dance Rock" band The Slants, April 21, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Simon Tam, the bass player and manager of the “Chinatown Dance Rock” band The Slants, April 21, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

Simon Tam, the bass player and manager for The Slants, told KOIN 6 News The Slants took their name after being inspired by a scene in “Kill Bill.”

“I was watching the scene where the Asian gang walks out, and it struck me because it was the first time I had ever seen an American-produced film portray Asians as confident, cool and sexy,” he said.

The name itself, he said, “comes from our slant on life as people of color, as Asian-Americans. We sing about our experiences.”

The ruling could bolster the Washington Redskins in their legal fight over the team name.

In a different court, the Redskins are appealing a judge’s July order canceling the team’s trademark registration. The judge ruled the name Redskins may disparage Native Americans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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