Supreme Court says 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 against the New England Patriots in Landover, Md. A federal judge has ordered the Patent and Trademark Office to cancel registration of the Washington Redskins' trademark, ruling that the team name may be disparaging to Native Americans. The ruling Wednesday by Judge Gerald Bruce Lee affirms an earlier finding by an administrative appeal board. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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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